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Bird Dog Jubilee Preps for Late Night at Aisle 5 on October 1st September 21, 2022 09:00

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Photo by Katherine Avery 
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Atlanta-based jam band Bird Dog Jubilee recently announced the details on their next hometown throw down at Aisle 5 in Little 5 Points. Those who follow the local music scene can attest to the fact that this band has become a true staple over the better part of the last decade. Their latest announcement comes in the form of a late night set at Aisle 5 immediately after the red hot Goose wraps up night one of two at nearby Pullman Yards on Saturday, October 1st
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They're fresh off the release of their first full-length album, Bird Dog Jubilee, and currently working on the release of their next single. While the lineup has seen a few changes over the years, founding members RJ Fyfe and Kyle Denis couldn't be happier with the latest additions of Iain Thomas (drums) and DJ Rees (guitar/keys). The band couldn't be more locked in, and October 1st looks to be another killer chapter in the BDJ story.
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We recently caught up with members of BDJ to get all of the latest details. Our full Q&A can be found below. Tickets are already moving fast for this one, and if you're planning on making it to the show, we recommend grabbing your tickets today. This show will almost certainly sell out in advance, so do yourself a favor and click here to secure your spot. 
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Artwork by Danny Evans: This Old Engine 
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How has this year shaped up for the band thus far?

Kyle Denis: Releasing our first full LP was a highlight. We put our whole heart into recording the songs and were able to polish arrangements to give our fans some surprises that differ from the live versions. Aside from our LP, we've been keeping busy on the road more than ever. From our debut in New Orleans all the way to Charleston, we have hit a stride with touring.

What has the focus of the band been since getting settled with the current lineup?

RJ Fyfe: Since going through a couple lineup changes over the years, and most recently during the pandemic we feel great about the current lineup. We are the most together we have ever been and that is really proving rewarding for us. I think that this lineup has certainly allowed us to explore different avenues while really achieving a big sound.

Aisle 5 seems to be home base for you guys. What is it about this venue that works so well for you guys?

RJ Fyfe: Aisle 5 is our home in Atlanta. No doubt about it. There are a ton of great venues in our city, but Aisle 5 is where we really feel comfortable. Some of our best shows have been in that room, and the staff are literally like family. Being able to fill a room with friends that have been to every show, or maybe their first show, is a really gratifying thing for us.

What's on the horizon for BDJ the rest of this year?

Iain Thomas: We’re back in the studio, putting the finishing touches on our next single so look out for that soon. It’s a ballad called "Stormy Seas." Plus, we have a lot more songs lined up to record. Along with a busy tour schedule which we are looking forward to adding to it, we are going to continue to hit venues around the southeast.

For those who might be catching their first BDJ show on October 1st, what can they expect from y'all's performance?

Iain Thomas: For people checking out their first BDJ show, you can expect it to be completely unique. As we do play Aisle 5 a couple times a year, we make a conscious effort to make each one of the home town shows completely different than the last. You can expect to hear original music, both new and old, with new covers each time.


Looking Ahead To This Year's Suwanee Hulaween Festivities September 15, 2022 11:33

Words by Isom Morgan

Photos by Isom Morgan Photography

In a just under two months from now, Suwannee Hulaween is returning home to Spirit of the Suwannee Music Parkin Live Oak, Florida on Thursday, October 27th thru Sunday, October 29thHulaween is a Halloween-themed festival nestled in the middle of the woods in northern Florida. This festival, which includes music, arts, and camping, is known for pulling musical talent from several different genres. 

Ever since the first Hulaween back in 2013, the festival has stood out as one of the premier music events in the country. Back in early June, Hulaween organizers released a stellar lineup for the 9th edition of the festival. The lineup is stacked with national acts specializing in electronic, hip-hop, funk, jam, indie, and bluegrass. Suwannee Hulaween once again has hit it out of the park with their musical talent.

Headliners for this year consist of veteran Hulaweeners such as The String Cheese Incident (performing 3 nights), the jamtronica of STS9, funky jams from The Disco Biscuits, Portugal The Man, CloZeeand Sylvan EssoAlso making their Hulaween debut this year is RainbowKitten Surprise bringing their unique alternative rock indie sound, the diverse sound of Louis the Child, and the funky Fearless Flyers are amongst some of the other headliners on this year’s Hulaween lineup.

This year's Hulaween will also include live sets from several top-notch acts like: Lettuce, Cory Wong, Leftover Salmon, Franc Moody, Neil Frances, Twiddle, Lewis Del Mar, Circles Around The Sun, Manic Focus Live Band, Margo Price, Liquid Stranger, and The Main Squeeze, Maddy O’Neal, Toubab Krewe and many more.

Hulaween is once again allowing electronic music collectives to take place one of the stages.“Stage Takeovers” are hosted by Liquid Stranger’s Wakaan, Desert Hearts, and LP Giobbi’s FemmeHouse.These electronic collectives always prove to be a non-stop dance party in the meadows of Suwannee Music Park.Festival fans will also be in for a treat when Big Gigantic and NGHTMRE collab for the first time on stage as Gigantic NGHTMRE.

Suwannee Hulaween is also well known for it incredible art displays throughout the park, especially “Spirit Lake.”The perimeter of the lake is canvased with painters, sculptures, fire/metal workers, lighting designers, murals, and thespians prancing about.In the middle of the lake will be one of the most amazing light shows in the world in my humble opinion. There are also two stages surrounding the lake so you can immerse yourself in the sounds of your favorite bands while being visually stimulated by the fine eclectic arts around you. For the night owls, there is a silent disco that will keep you dancing well into the sunrise and beyond if your heart desires.

This festival is always at the top of my list every year for a must do.I highly recommend giving Suwannee Hulaween a chance if you have never been. Fans were so eager to get back this year, the blind sale sold out pretty much instantly.Tickets are still on sale to the public on Hulaween’s website (https://suwanneehulaween.com/passes).

Check out the official Hulaween 2022 hype video here:

SUWANNEE HULAWEEN LINEUP (A-Z)
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A Hundred Drums
Aluna
Artikal Sound System
Black Pumas
Blaque Dynamite
Butcher Brown ft. Nigel Hall
Cannabliss
Cimafunk
Circles Around The Sun
CloZee
Cory Wong
Danielle Ponder
David Shaw
Desert Hearts (Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Marbs, Porky)
Dirtwire
Dogs In A Pile
Eazybaked
Eggy
Elohim
Eugene Snowden
Fearless Flyers
Fisher
Franc Moody
Future Joy
Gigantic NGHTMRE
Gorgon City
Isaiah Sharkey
J.I.D
Jantsen
Jauz (Off The Deep End set)
Kaleena Zanders
Karina Rykman
Kyle Hollingsworth Band
Lawrence
Leftover Salmon
Lettuce
Lewis Del Mar
Liquid Stranger (Wakaan takeover)
Liz Cooper
Louis The Child
LP Giobbi (Femme House Takeover)
Maddy O'Neal
Manic Focus (live band)
Margo Price
Mark Lettieri Group
Maya Jane Coles
Miane
Mindchatter
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway
MZG
Neighbor
Neil Frances
Of The Trees
Opiuo
Paper Idol
Player Dave
Portugal. The Man
Rainbow Kitten Surprise
Ravenscoon
Sexbruise?
STS9
Sylvan Esso
Tand
Tape B
The Disco Biscuits
The Iceman Special
The Main Squeeze
The String Cheese Incident
Three Star Revival
Toubab Krewe
Tripp St
Twiddle
Two Feet
Wednesday Night Titans
Zingara

Hog Days Preview: An Interview with Sam Bush August 19, 2022 11:50

Photos via Sam Bush

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

My hometown of Montgomery, Alabama is not traditionally known as a major hub for live music. Most of your local music fanatics would attest that you're typically going to be driving up I-65 to Birmingham or I-85 to Atlanta in order to catch your favorite bands on tour. When I decided to launch Live & Listen in 2014, this was a major source of motivation. You were starting to see a new wave of likeminded, progressive locals working together to bring new and exciting events to Montgomery, and that was something I wanted to be a part of. 

Early on in 2017, I was introduced to a group of guys (Druids Charity Club) working to start an annual music and BBQ festival. It took no time at all to realize that the Druids team was serious about bringing something major to Montgomery. The event would ultimately be known as Hog Days of Summer, which raises thousands of dollars annually for pediatric cancer. They've successfully rounded up the River Region's top BBQ connoisseurs and a top notch event production company to produce one of Montgomery's most anticipated annual events at the Union Station Train Shed. The entire community seems to have embraced Hog Days from day one, which has been a beautiful process to watch unfold. 

In just a few years, Hog Days has already featured the likes of Robert Earl Keen, North Mississippi Allstars, The Band of Heathens, and Jupiter Coyote. They've managed to outdo themselves once again this year, with a lineup featuring Sam Bush Band, Anders Osborne, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Ally Venable Band, Ben Prestage, and Ms. Aretta Woodruff. The family-friendly festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 27th in downtown Montgomery.

In preparation for next weekend, we sat down with headliner Sam Bush earlier this week. Considered one of the originators of progressive bluegrass music, Bush has built one of the most built one of the most decorated resumes the genre has ever seen, including collaborations with Bela FleckLeon RussellGarth BrooksEmmylou HarrisLyle LovettJerry Douglas, and many more. See below for the full conversation and make sure to follow Sam on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates.

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to Hog Days of Summer!

Great to speak with you today, Sam. I usually start these interviews off with some basic history. I'd love to hear about how you got started as a musician and ultimately made your way to bluegrass?

Sam: Well, I grew up on a tobacco and cattle farm outside of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Our parents were music lovers. My father played the fiddle and a little bit of mandolin. My mother played the guitar. That led to two of my sisters and me getting interested in music. I started playing mandolin at age 11. Pretty quickly, my sisters had already started to sing folk music, so I started playing with them. I picked up the fiddle around age 13, and within a year, I was playing in a bluegrass band as the kid fiddler. 

I grew up in household where music was greatly encouraged. Our parents didn't want us to have to work as hard as they did on the farm, and we didn't (laughs). I started playing guitar and bass in rock bands in high school. I played drums in the marching band, singing in the chorus, and playing bass violin in the school orchestra. 

I also has the advantage of Nashville television in the 60s. I got to watch a lot of Grand Ole Opry performances and really watch how the musicians' hands worked. Plus, in the era of the Ed Sullivan Show, I saw all of the performances by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and. Jefferson Airplane. So, I got interested in rock and roll with all of the TV and radio that was going down at the time. 

At age 18, when I got out of high school, I moved up to Louisville and started playing in a band called The Bluegrass Alliance. I did what we call "going to bluegrass college," and you play four sets a night / five nights a week. It really tightens up the band. That's kind of how I got into bluegrass. As a young mandolin player, the instrument itself kind of let me to bluegrass, because that's where the great mandolin players, like Bob Osborne and Bill Monroe, were. 

I'm glad that you mentioned The Bluegrass Revival. Tell me a little bit about the formation of that band and how far you went with it. 

Sam: We were four of the members of a five-piece band. That band was called The Bluegrass Alliance. When we came to a parting of the ways with our fiddle player, he owned the name of the band. So, basically, four of us quit and became The Bluegrass Revival in the fall of 1971. I was the only one who was in the band the entire time, which ended up being 18 years. I think that took us up to 1990. For our last show ever, we opened up on New Year's Eve (December 31st 1989) for The Grateful Dead at the Oakland Coliseum in California. So, that was a great way to do your last job, right?

No kidding!

Sam: After that, I played for five years with Emmylou Harris. I needed a break from band leading. I played in Emmylou's band, The Nash Ramblers, for five years. We won a Grammy in 1993 for Country Vocal Group of the Year. That was for an album we released called Live at The Ryman

After playing with Emmy for five years, I did 86 shows with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones in 1995 or 1996. After learning more about singing and getting back into improvising with the Flecktones, I was ready to making my own records and having a band again. 

That's incredible. So it was around 1995 or 1996 that Sam Bush Band got going?

Sam: Well, that's when I started making my own records and playing my own gigs again. I'm not sure when we officially had a full-time group. It was over 20 years ago. That's for sure. Chris Brown has been playing drums in the band for going on his 22nd year now. 

Wow. Those are some serious accolades already by 1996. Touring with the likes of Leon Russell, Bela Fleck, and winning a Grammy with Emmylou Harris. I'm sure there was no shortage of inspiration.

Sam: I also spent some time playing with Lyle Lovett around that time. When you play with Lyle, you wear a suit and tie. I know how to do that too (laughs). My big thing is that I love to play with others. Even within my own group, it is my job to back them when they're soloing. I love to play rhythm. To lead well, you must support well. I learned that from Emmylou, Lyle, and Leon over the years. 

I would imagine so. Well, let's talk a little more about the current state of the Sam Bush Band. Who's on the road with you these days?

Sam: Sure. In order of seniority, we have Chris Brown on drums. Next, we have Stephen Mougin on guitar and vocals. On bass, both acoustic and electric, is Todd Parks. Those guys have been around for a while. We also have Wes Corbett, who has been with the band for a few years, on banjo. Both Stephen and Wes, and me as well, many times will have switched instruments by the end of the show. We'll be playing electric instruments by the end of it. We have an electric side, as well as our bluegrass / newgrass side. 

It sounds like you guys have an ever-evolving show up on stage.

Sam: Oh yeah. I've never been about what kind of music it is, as much as "Are we enjoying it?"

That's the way to do it. How has the year of 2022 shaped up for you guys thus far? Has it been a pretty heavy year of touring and festival plays? Any time in the studio?

Sam: We've had a pretty good amount of work this year. Of course, we're still in a pandemic, and we're being as cautious as we can. We're all trying to make our way as clearly as possible. 2022 has been a good year so far. We've played quite a few festivals. Earlier in the summer, we had a tour called The Bluegrass Happening, which was Bela Fleck & My Bluegrass Heart, The Jerry Douglas Band, and Sam Bush Band.

The three groups banded together for a tour than spanned about 10 dates in the midwest. This was right after the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. It's good because we have a few weeks here in August to regroup a little bit. By the time we come to Montgomery, we're back in the saddle. It's just great to be out playing. We have a good amount of work in September and October. If all goes according to schedule, I'm supposed to be having a new album come out in November. I'm looking forward to that. 

It has to feel amazing to find that sense of normalcy again. We're obviously not out of the woods with COVID, but this year has certainly presented fewer challenges than the past two. 

Sam: Well, let's face it. I was born in 1952, so that's how old I am. I've been wondering if I should consider not traveling as much anymore. When 2020 hit, I learned what it was like to be retired, and I found I wasn't ready for that. I'm not close to ready to retire. If anything, I think all of us in the music business, whether we knew it or not, we needed a reboot. It's a unique situation that we have, and I think many of us needed that reminder. 

Totally agree with you there. It definitely puts things into perspective.

Sam: Absolutely.

Well, before we wrap this up, I wanted to get your thoughts on the current state of bluegrass. Guys like you, Bela Fleck and The McCourys have about as strong of a grasp on this scene as anyone. When you look across the bluegrass spectrum, you have the longstanding jam grass acts like Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, and Yonder Mountain String Band. Then you have the rising stars like Billy Strings and Sierra Hull. What are your thoughts on where bluegrass stands in 2022?

Sam: The current state of bluegrass is really healthy. You still have Del McCoury, for instance. Del is kind of 2nd generation bluegrass himself, but as a man who played with Bill Monroe and everything, if you want to hear true bluegrass, go see Del McCoury. As you mentioned, you also have The Travelin' McCourys, that don't just want to play what their dad does. They play what you consider to be more "new grass," right?

One of the great things that is happening in bluegrass, and acoustic music in general, is the emergence of more great, female artists. The first few that come to my mind are of course Sierra Hull and Molly Tuttle. You also have The First Ladies of Bluegrass, which is Becky Buller, Alison Brown, and Missy Raines. Sierra and Molly are really making their own way now.

When you speak of Billy Strings, he's really drawing big audiences, and that only helps the rest of us. Billy's out there doing his own this, and one that I really love about him is that he strives to improve all the time. Bluegrass is in good hands, and it's really good for the world of bluegrass and acoustic music that Billy is doing so well right now. It only helps the rest of us. 

I couldn't agree more. There is a very bright light on the bluegrass world right now. It's great to see so many younger acts making waves and putting their own spin on such an beautiful style of music. 

Sam: It really is. You know, when I was a kid, there just weren't as many youngsters coming up playing bluegrass. Now, it's reached a whole new level, where kids are excited about it. I think it only gets better as we go along.

Love to hear that from you, Sam. I really appreciate your time this morning. I think I can speak for everyone involved with Hog Days when I say we are stoked to have you coming to Montgomery. There's going to be some amazing BBQ there, and we can't wait to see what you and the band have planned. 

Sam: Thanks so much, Jordan. We're really excited to come play for y'all.


Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Alex Cape of Big Friendly Productions August 16, 2022 18:38

Photo via Big Friendly Productions

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

As most music fans in and around the Birmingham area are already aware, CBDB and Big Friendly Productions have joined forces to bring an incredible new festival to Avondale Brewing Company this summer. Deebs Days Music Festival is pinned for Friday, August 19th and Saturday, August 20th in Birmingham (AL), and all signs point to an incredible celebration. If you haven't gotten around to purchasing your weekend passes, we've got you covered. Simply click the link below and secure your spot while you still can. 
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As we've prepared for the festival, we've been catching up with various performers on the lineup. Being that we're now just a few days away from Deebs Days, we're switching things up and continuing the official "Deebs Days Countdown" with Alex Cape of Big Friendly Productions. Alex is the co-founder of Big Friendly, and if you're a music fan in Birmingham, you've most likely seen him in action. BFP officially took form in 2014 and has since developed into one of the most impressive event production companies in the Southeast.  
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The concert experience is often focused on the performers playing the music on stage. Many fail to realize the hours of work which often begin as the sun is rising the morning of a show. The hardworking men and women building out the stage, audio, and lighting behind the scenes work harder than anyone to ensure that your show is executed flawlessly. Alex and Big Friendly Productions have worked tirelessly, even through a pandemic, to bring us all as much live music as possible. Check out the full interview below, and make sure to follow Big Friendly Productions on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat today, Alex. Let's start by talking a little history. How did you get started in the world of production, and what led you to start Big Friendly Productions and build it into the company it is today?

Alex: Well, I started the company in 2014. I was working at Zydeco for Layne (Flournoy), and I was finishing my two-year assistantship duties. I was trying to find a way to fit into the Birmingham music market. I had been running shows for Layne, and I'd seen that the production was a bit dated. There was definitely a need for someone to help out there without stepping on many toes.

I started by saving up a couple thousand dollars and buying a small setup that could work for a crowd of up to 250 people. That first year, all I did was weddings, tailgate parties for fraternities, and nothing much bigger than that. In year two, I doubled the rig and kept putting money back into it. In 2016, we bought our first line array PA system. In 2017, we bought our first video wall.

Then from there, we continued to grow. I put every penny that I could back into it until COVID hit. We had our share of COVID pivots, and fortunately, we landed here. I started managing bands in 2015, too. That's definitely a big part of our history. Winston Ramble was the first band that I started working with. We currently manage two acts, Winston Ramble and Trey Lewis. I played in a band in college. I ran all of our sound and booked most of our gigs. When Ramble asked me to work with them, I had that experience to build on. They were a really great band to get started with.

I couldn't agree more. They're such a great band. I know you have built on and provided production for just about every size show at this point. You've produced many of your own events. How did the idea for Deebs Days come about, and how did y'all ultimately bring it to life?

Alex: Deebs Days comes from wanting to produce our own festival. We've worked for a lot of really great promoters and some not-so-great promoters in the past. We wanted to take the experiences from those doing it the right way and avoid the pitfalls of what we've seen other promoters do in the past. The concept of us promoting our own shows was born out of COVID.

Promoters would book shows during COVID and cancel them a few days before for one reason or another. We decided that we'd put on shows with artists we believed in. We wanted to make decisions ourselves and put the artists and attendants first. A promoter is trying to make as much money in the middle as possible. We're in a unique position to not have to do that because we own our own production. We don't have to feed someone in the middle.

CBDB approached us about wanting to produce their own festival, and we told them we were looking to do the same thing. We decided after doing close to 100 shows together over the years, it would be a good fit to team up and try to produce our first festival.

Photo by Thomas Diasio 

It seems like a perfect fit to me. I know both Big Friendly and CBDB have plenty of history with Avondale Brewery. Tell me a little about the decision to bring this to Avondale and some of the unique things y'all have in store for the weekend. 

Alex: Avondale is definitely home base these days. The people at the top there really care about the concert experience, and everyone that works there feeds off that energy. They have welcomed us with open arms since 2019. In that time, we were helping with their local and regional shows. When COVID hit, we were some of the first in the country to start doing shows again. Our first one back was the "Live at Last" series with Winston Ramble & Little Raine Band in June 2020.

They were down to do safe, responsible shows. We couldn't afford to sit on the sidelines, but we also didn't want to be negligent. They came to us and proposed that we figure out a way to have safe, outdoor shows for ~500 socially distanced fans. We did that for a lot of COVID. They've always had our back and welcomed us.

They've been open to all of the crazy ideas we've had for Deebs Days. You want to bring in a second stage? No problem. You want to build a 40 foot castle? No problem. They're always down to be creative and do fun things.

I'm not surprised to hear that at all. It's got to be a huge plus to bring an event of this nature to a place where you have such strong relationships in place. 

Alex: For sure. Coming off of The World Games, where we produced two stages (and were paid in full for it), we're definitely feeling very fortunate to be doing what we love. We just want to make people happy, really. All of the work and effort is 100% worth it when people are enjoying themselves and making memories. That's what we do it for.

Amazing. Well before we wrap this up, I wanted to see what your thoughts were on the future of this event. CBDB announced this would be their last show before they go on hiatus. I know you wouldn't want to speak for them, but do you see this as something to build on for the future?

Alex: Well, it's definitely not going to be our last festival. It's very much open ended. I was definitely bummed to hear about CBDB going on hiatus. In any capacity that we do another Birmingham festival, CBDB will absolutely be welcome. Whether or not they will want to be a part of it as a host again, we shall see. I'd say everything is open-ended at this point, and we want to make sure this weekend goes smoothly before making any additional plans.

That sounds like the smartest way to look at it. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say "thank you" for all of the effort you guys have put in. It will all be worth it, and I'm looking forward to an amazing experience. 

Alex: Thanks so much, Jordan!


Widespread Panic Honors Michael Houser on Night One in Atlanta August 11, 2022 19:01

Words by Monica Dean

Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

“It’s our music”  It comes from us, I don’t know anything else to say but that.  We do it because it’s all we can do, pretty much”Michael Houser

Widespread Panic celebrated the life of Michael Houser last night at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia on the 20th anniversary of the founding guitarist's death from pancreatic cancer. Audio from Houser’s interview with Billy Bob Thornton on the film “Live at the Georgia Theatre” played before the band took the stage.  Balloons, traditionally staged overhead for New Years Eve, fell during the chorus of “Porch Song” to open the show.

After making sure everyone knew this celebration was about having a good time, John Bell, guitar/vocals, turned the key to start a  rowdy “Love Tractor”.  The crowd responded with an equally energetic few minutes of cheering and popping balloons.  Paul Hoffman, Lighting Designer, did a beautiful job bringing the lights down low for “Little Lilly”.  Jimmy Herring, guitarist, swam upstream in the dirtiest river for “Proving Ground.”  The first set came to a close with “Papa’s Home”.

“Mercy” opened up the second set for the first time ever.  Dave Schools, bassist, teased “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” at the end of “Mercy” before giving a little cough cough into Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf”. The four Disco balls suspended from the Fox Theatre’s ceiling, usually to celebrate New Year’s Eve, were brilliantly lit for “Vacation”.  As Bell sang “As panic grabbed my legs, you know it, pulled me in” the impact of Houser’s music was felt by fans.  “Ain't Life Grand”, a Houser song about finding turning everyday life into something special, closed the second set.

The band returned for a three song encore with “Don't Want to Lose You”  For the first time since 2017, “Galleon” was played before “Fishwater” with mini drums to end a show of all Houser era songs.  As the band walked off stage, the audio track “Waiting for the Wind to Blow Down the Tree in My Back Yard”, a hidden track from the album, “Ain’t Life Grand”, played as a last, but not final, tribute to Houser.

Widespread Panic will finish a four night run at the Fox Theatre before heading out West to Napa, California on August 26.

 


Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Marcus White of The Shady Recruits August 3, 2022 14:18

Photo by Donna Winchester

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

As most music fans in and around the Birmingham area are already aware, CBDB and Big Friendly Productions have joined forces to bring an incredible new festival to Avondale Brewing Company this summer. Deebs Days Music Festival is pinned for Friday, August 19th and Saturday, August 20th in Birmingham (AL), and all signs point to an incredible celebration. If you haven't gotten around to purchasing your weekend passes, we've got you covered. Simply click the link below and secure your spot while you still can. 
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As we prepare for the festival, we're catching up with a handful of the performers on the lineup. This week, we're continuing the official "Deebs Days Countdown" with Marcus White, keyboard + synth wizard for The Shady Recruits. Marcus has an extensive history touring with bands such as Soul MechanicVoodoo Visionary, and KillaKeyz Band. This latest project features multiple members of The Marcus King Band and has quickly become a favorite amongst festivals across the country. 
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You'll find The Shady Recruits performing at Avondale Brewing Company for Deebs Days in just over two weeks, and they certainly seem ready to leave their mark on Birmingham. Check out the full interview with Marcus below, and make sure to follow The Talismen on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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Click Here: Purchase Your Deebs Days Tickets Today!

Great to speak with you for a few today, Marcus. We're here to talk about The Shady Recruits, but I know you've had quite the journey up to this point. Tell me about how you got started as a musician? 

Marcus: I started playing drums at church when I was nine. Then, around age twelve, I started playing guitar and keys too. This was still at church. My mom was playing piano at the time, and I thought I could do a better job. She said to give it a try, so I did. 

That's great man. And how did this ultimately lead you to your band mates in The Shady Recruits?

Marcus: I just kept playing and ended up winning a scholarship to a small school in Cleveland, TN. From there, I went on tour with a gospel group called EJM. When that was over, I moved back to Chattanooga and linked up with an up-and-coming band called Soul Mechanic.

This promoter in North Carolina named Ryan Williams, who we did gigs with previously, wanted us to do this show for him. We did that one and ended up getting a call to open up for The Marcus King Band. We became really good friends and the rest is history.

This seems is a super group, in a sense. Everyone involved has quite a few projects to balance, including multiple guys on tour with Marcus King Band. How do you go about scheduling for this band? How has the calendar shaped up so far this year? 

Marcus: Honestly, I have no idea. We really try to stick to planning out months in advance, communication, and being respectful of each others time. Like you said, half of the band is also on the road with Marcus King, so we have to plan accordingly. 

Just a few weeks ago, the Recruits released their first full-length album, Incognito. This follows your five-song EP, Shady, which released in March of 2020. Tell me about Incognito and how things have progressed since the first release  

Marcus: We are on tour right now. We had a great time at Peach Fest. The new album was produced by our good friend Marcus King. That has been huge in terms of building the audience. Super proud of the work we did on the album.

The Shady Recruits have grown accustomed to playing the major festival stages. One of the next up is Avondale Brewing Co. in Birmingham for CBDB's Deebs Days. Will this be the band's first play in Birmingham? What can those attending expect from you guys?

Marcus: Yeah man, this will be the band's first time in Birmingham, but certainly not my first. People can expect a lot of fun. It's gonna be a breath of fresh air. I think we bring something different and unique to this line up. We're known for having a lot of fun, and while we take each show very seriously, we don't take ourselves too seriously. 

Beyond this summer, how is the final quarter of 2022 looking for the band? What are you guys looking ahead to? Where is the focus as you guys look to the future?  

Marcus: The future is bright man. We're gonna start working on the next album. We're booking more gigs and traveling to new markets that we haven't played. Just trying to grow and keep this train moving.

Right on. Love to hear it. Thanks so much for your time today, Marcus. Look forward to seeing you in Birmingham in a few weeks.

Marcus: Can't wait man. Thank you!


Checking In With Runaway Gin's Andy Greenberg July 25, 2022 01:31

Photo by Cloud Bobby Productions

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

The world's most active Phish tribute, Runaway Gin, has certainly proved they are worthy of that title in 2022. Over the past year, they have welcomed two new band members in Tim Khayat (bass) and Sean Bing (drums). One might think that could slow a band down by a step or two, but the Gin train hasn't missed a beat. Their Winter, Spring, and Summer tours have taken them from Jacksonville (FL) to New York City (NY) and just about everywhere in between.

Taking on the title of an official "tribute act" isn't a decision to take lightly. If you know anything about Phish, their wildly expansive catalog, the incredibly detailed compositions, and their focus on unique improvisation during every show, you know Runaway Gin has their hands full. Recreating what Trey, Mike, Page, and Fishman create on stage is a tall task (to say the least), yet Andy Greenberg and his bandmates continue to prove that they're more than up for the challenge.  

It wasn't long ago that Jennifer Reiser (keyboards) joined the band full time, and just as the group finding their new groove, they're introducing a brand new rhythm section. As Greenberg details in our conversation below, it's been an absolutely beautiful transition with Khayat and Bing in the mix. Just as the musical journey of Phish, Runaway Gin continues to evolve and push boundaries at every corner. 

Check out thew full interview with Andy below, and make sure to take note of RG's upcoming Fall Tour dates below. If you're anywhere near the Carolinas, you can still catch their Summer Tour closer at Bowstring Brewyard in Raleigh, NC on Thursday, July 28th. Whether you've seen a Gin show in the past or not, there are all kinds of exciting elements brewing as the band looks ahead to the second half of 2022!

You just reached the one year mark with the latest lineup of Runaway Gin. Tell me about how this year has gone? What have you taken away from this time with the lineup additions?
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Andy: It's been a really good year! We have very patiently and organically developed into a much more cohesive unit. Every run, and even show now, we seem to turn a corner in our musical conversation. We have focused on different aspects of the project methodically - from setlist composition, segues, improvisational strategies, interpersonal communication, existential aspects of the experience, band bonding, travel strategies, to great band dining experiences.
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We really have come a remarkably long way very quickly. I credit this to all of our collective experiences up to this point; converging and combining and us all being very open to communication of all kinds. I have been building bands since I was a teenager, and every time it seems to get a little bit easier. Organization and timing are so very important to all of this.
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I have learned a lot about my bandmates during this last year, which I really cherish and love, and I've also learned a lot about music from every member. I have also learned a lot about myself. Specifically about building boundaries, patience, being present and letting go. I have faced many challenges and certainly handled some better than others, but I am committed to learning from every aspect of the experience.
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With such a specific, complex catalog of songs with significant improvisational sections, what has the process been like when bringing in a new band member and getting them fully acquainted?
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Andy: It isn't easy, but also it isn't hard! If you can figure out the key points and how to communicate them clearly and succinctly, your work pretty much all gets done for you. Each person learns music differently, and each person learns to develop improv differently.
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The basic element is figure out how they learn; their speed and readiness in regards to each facet of the catalog. Figure out what someone likes and give them more of that. Figure out their strengths and showcase them. Figure out their weaknesses and address them methodically and rationally, while also hiding them.
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Each member has been vastly different to bring in based on their musical background. I try and establish a give and take where no one feels like they are being ordered around but rather feels like they are being heard and responded to in kind. It's a very delicate middle ground to find but it seems to be where the magic occurs.
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You've just released a lengthy fall tour which will take you to 14 different cities. What can the RG fan base expect from you guys at these upcoming shows?
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Andy: We've got the new 'Makisupa Police, Man' concept in, which we will take material by the Police and Sting and basically twist it, mash it, jam it, and explore it in the context of a Phish show. Not all shows will have the concept, but most of them, starting on September 24th at the Charleston Pour House, will.
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Keep in mind we will still be playing primary Phish material, and we don't know exactly what the setlists will look like. We will build it organically, like we have strived to so far in this configuration. I have a feeling we're going to be finding lots of interesting and novel spaces and challenging ourselves more than ever to be creative in the moment.
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The Phish catalog is obviously ever evolving, with no shortage of new material surfacing each year. How often is the band adding new tunes to the catalog? What does this process look like for RG?
 
Andy: Phish is an extremely prolific band. They have constantly challenged themselves and each other from the beginning. We strive to do that too. For me, it's part of the tribute. Phish seems to add about 2-3 albums worth of material each year these days, and it is a lot to keep up even as a fan. As a band, we are not even attempting to keep up by adding songs as quickly as possible.
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For us, we are trying to honor the spirit behind Phish but not follow directly behind them because we are not them. We have different strengths, weaknesses, and tastes so it doesn't really make sense to try to copy theirs over our own. In terms of adding songs, we are constantly working on new material. We just added 3 new songs last weekend: 'Foam', 'Knuckle Bone Broth Avenue', and 'Meat'.
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We added another one too but we haven't actually played it live yet so I won't mention what it is. Each new song we add is adding a new dimension to our band.A new set of parameters, rhythms, and sonic landscapes to couple with the ones we have already explored collectively and individually.
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That being the case it's good for us to take it a little slow and to let each song marinate and incubate and subsequently digest and become a part of us as a collective.I am really excited to see how each song colors us differently and greatly enjoy this process.
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Even with a full-time job and touring with RG, you find the time to make it to a healthy dose of Phish shows each year. What are your general thoughts on the band here in the summer of 2022?
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Andy: I actually just finished streaming Mann night 1 and mannnnn! I just love the way the setlists keep evolving. I love the risks they take and the smoothness of interplay. It's a completely different show than they played in 2013 and even more different from 1999 and so on and so forth. The band is pure fluid movement. The musical themes, the lyrical themes, the jam styles, the new songs, and sonic possibilities.
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It's a tweaker's paradise and I am definitely a tweaker. It's impossible to even imagine anyone having as big of an influence on me musically than Phish has. While I love so many other bands, the essence of Phish just lights a spark in me that makes me feel like anything is possible. It sure is an amazing time to be a phan!
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You've got that right. Well, thanks so much for your time today, Andy. It's always a pleasure, and I look forward to seeing you out there soon.
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Andy: Likewise, my friend. Thank you Jordan!
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Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Jack Bennett of The Talismen July 21, 2022 14:46

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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As most music fans in and around the Birmingham area are already aware, CBDB and Big Friendly Productions have joined forces to bring an incredible new festival to Avondale Brewing Company this summer. Deebs Days Music Festival is pinned for Friday, August 19th and Saturday, August 20th in Birmingham (AL), and all signs point to an incredible celebration. If you haven't gotten around to purchasing your weekend passes, we've got you covered. Simply click the link below and secure your spot while you still can. 
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As we prepare for the festival, we're catching up with a handful of the performers on the lineup. This week, we're continuing the official "Deebs Days Countdown" with Jack Bennettlead guitarist of The Talismen. Since the band's formation in their teenage years, Bennett and his bandmates have continued to make major strides as a mainstay in their respective scene. They released their debut album, Jar Full of Something, in March of 2019. The album has since since gained 800,000+ plus stream on Spotify. Additional releases include the four-song EP, Extra Vehicular Activity, and a full length live album titled Live From The Bunker. Each has played a vital role in showcasing a variety of elements that these young jam wizards bring to the table. 
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The band has seen a busy year thus far; building their audience all across the southeast. Many will recall previous festival plays at CukoRakko Music FestivalSliceFest, Woodlands Music Festival, and Mountain Music Festival. This list continues to grow, as they look ahead to The Big What? and Resonance Music & Arts Festival over the next few months. 
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You'll find The Talismen performing at Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company for Deebs Days in just a few weeks, and they couldn't be more excited about this play. Check out the full interview with Jack below, and make sure to follow The Talismen on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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Great to sit down and chat today, Jack. I figured we could start by talking about your musical background. How did you get started as a musician? How did this ultimately lead you to your bandmates?

Jack: Let's see. It was pretty early on in grade school. I picked up drums first. I was playing a lot of punk rock stuff. A lot of Travis Barker stuff. I think that got a little too loud for my parents, so I ended up picking up guitar around 4th or 5th grade. I didn't ever learn any traditional scales or anything like that. I would bring songs to an instructor in the back of Capitol Music in Montgomery. This was mostly rock and punk rock stuff with signature riffs. 

It was around 9th grade that I became really close with our drummer, George Norrell. We really hit it off quick. We vibe with a lot of the same musical influences. I think the band started in 10th grade, when our keyboardist, Jack Wagstaff, moved from Birmingham to Montgomery. We all went on spring break that year, where we really connected with our bassist, Jack Anderson, who was two years ahead of us in school. We ended up forming The Talismen shortly after.

We started as 7-piece band; with our friends Jack Barganier on bass, Camp Spain on guitar, Jud Blount on guitar, and the four of us still playing today. Yes, there were originally four Jacks!

Jack Anderson was actually playing acoustic guitar and singing at the point. We started gigging around Montgomery, playing some local events, and setting a nice foundation by the time we finished high school. 

Fast forward to 2018, and we had evolved into a four-piece with Jack Anderson on bass and vocals. It was around then that we linked up our manager and focused our sights on more expansive gigging. It's really been onward and upward from there. 

That's a pretty unique story to have started the band so young. What have been some of the highlights for The Talismen since that pivotal time in 2018?

Jack: Oh man. Definitely JingleBall in Montgomery back in December 2019. We opened for a supergroup formed by Kevin Scott. They were performing Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, and Jennifer Hartswick was also on the bill. She was kind enough to sit in with us. We closed out set with Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart," and she was just incredible.

We had our first real festival play that year as well. We played Umphrey's McGee's Woodlands Festival in Charleston. It's been great to connect with some amazing bands along the way. We've really enjoyed building relationships with groups like Big Something, CBDB, and Funk You.

We also recorded our first album at Technical Earth Recorders in Montgomery at the end of 2018. Robert Shimp was incredible to work with. It can a little intimidating getting into a recording studio for the first time, but he made the process so much fun. We're really grateful for him and the opportunity to record Jar Full of Something in our hometown. 

We later connected with our friend Kevin Scott, who was kind enough to get us into a private studio in Roswell. This was right after JingleBall in December of 2019. We recorded a four-song EP, Extra Vehicular Activity, with he and Jason Kingsland. That second experience gave us an even better idea of what we wanted to achieve. We still left and felt like we had a lot to learn, but it was such a valuable experience.

Kevin has a long history with guys like Col. Bruce Hampton, Jimmy Herring, and John McLaughlin...just to name a few. Jason has recorded and produced bands like Band of Horses, Perpetual Groove, and a bunch of others. We're just really grateful for that experience in studio with them.  

Click Here: Watch The Talismen with Jennifer Hartswick of Trey Anastasio Band

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

I would imagine so. Where would you say the focus on recording and studio time has been since then? Y'all have been recording and producing some of your own material recently, correct?

Jack: That's right. We did end up releasing a live album during the pandemic though. Big Friendly Productions put on an amazing live stream series to help bands like us when touring wasn't an option. We were so happy with the recordings that we decided to pick a handful of our favorite tracks and release them as Live From The Bunker later on in 2020. 

But yes, I moved into a house a few years ago which allowed us to setup a really ideal rehearsal and recording space. We've since recorded and released two singles, "Savage Road" and "Lockwood," and we're just about done with what will be our third single of 2022. We'll have much more news on that one here soon.

Very cool. I know there will be plenty of fans excited to hear that news. Y'all have been hitting the road pretty hard here in 2022. What have been some of the highlights, and what has the band learned from life on the road?

Jack: We've learned a lot from touring. It seems to be picking up and getting better each year. Some of the highlights this year have been playing Mountain Music Festival in West Virginia. We played our first true theatre gig with Big Something at The Bijou in Knoxville. We did a three-night run with Papadosio back in April, and that was a big opportunity to get in front of their fans.

More recently, we did a Panic afterparty in Huntsville and a Phish pre-party in Gulf Shores on the same weekend. We even got to catch a few nights of the Phish that weekend, which was a big plus. We don't get to go out and see as many shows as we would like to these days. 

There is definitely a lot of work to be done off the road, but being on the road and seeing the progress we have made has instilled a lot of confidence in ourselves. This past year has really taught us a lot about what it takes to be successful in this industry. Networking with bands, selling merch, and making sure you don't run out of gas (laughs). It's easy to think that getting on stage and playing is the most important thing, but talking to your fans, networking, and building relationships is equally important. 

Photo by Nicholas McElroy: Nicholas Jude Photography

That's a fact. It's great to hear that you guys have made so much progression this year. What's on the horizon for the band? You guys have some big gigs coming up, right?

Jack: Absolutely. Several big festivals coming up. We're super excited to be playing Big Something's festival, The Big What?, in Virginia in a few weeks. Like I said earlier, we're big fans of that band, and we can't say enough nice things about them. Then we have CBDB's festival, Deebs Days, later in August. Those guys have been really good us over the years, and we really look up to them. That's also a big hometown show for us, now that we're all living in Birmingham. They put together an amazing lineup, and we are looking forward to meeting and seeing all of those bands perform. 

We head back to The Charleston Woodlands for Resonance Music & Arts Festival in mid-September. That's going to be a full circle moment, being at the same location as our first big festival play back in 2019. It's pretty humbling to be on the same lineup with bands like Goose, Umphrey's McGee, SunSquabi, Papadosio, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and so many more. The lineup is just stacked. 

I'd say there is plenty of excitement ahead for you guys. I'm glad that you mentioned Deebs Days. For those who might be attending the festival and catching their first Talismen show, what would you say that they can expect?

Jack: High-energy rock and roll with some crazy jams. Like most of our peer bands, we pride ourselves on playing a totally unique show every time we step on stage. We've been working hard and planning a few special surprises for this one. This will definitely be a Talismen set to remember. 

That's what I like to hear. Well before we wrap this up, where would say that the focus of the band will be from this point forward? What's in store for the future of The Talismen?

Jack: We're definitely focusing on more touring and writing, recording, and releasing new music. We really want to continue to connect and work with other bands around us. That has been really valuable for us, and building our network will only make us stronger. You can expect us to release a few more singles by the end of the year. We'll be looking to record another full-length album at some point in 2023. 

Right on. Well, I appreciate your time today, Jack. Look forward to seeing you guys play again at Deebs Days in just a few weeks.

Jack: We can't wait. Thank you Jordan!

Video by Nicholas Jude Photography

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography


Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with The Mountain Grass Unit July 15, 2022 08:43

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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As most music fans in and around the Birmingham area are already aware, CBDB and Big Friendly Productions have joined forces to bring an incredible new festival to Avondale Brewing Company this summer. Deebs Days Music Festival is pinned for Friday, August 19th and Saturday, August 20th in Birmingham (AL), and all signs point to an incredible celebration. If you haven't gotten around to purchasing your weekend passes, we've got you covered. Simply click the link below and secure your spot while you still can. 
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As we prepare for the festival, we're catching up with a handful of the performers on the lineup. This week, we continue with a mighty hot young act known as The Mountain Grass Unit. I first learned of these guys when a video of Drury Anderson (vocals / mandolin) was featured on Jerry Garcia's official Instagram page as a young teenager. It wasn't long after that Drury, Luke Black (acoustic guitar), and Sam Wilson (upright bass) became a hot topic around Birmingham. Now that all three have finished high school, the concept of doing this full time is fast approaching. 
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This summer has proven to be a vital time for the band. They're not only in the midst of their first real tour, but also preparing for their first, full-length album release. Places I've Been will released on all major streaming platforms on Monday, July 25th. If you're looking for a super helpful way to support the band, you can pre-order the album on iTunes as of Saturday, July 26th. This release marks their second time working in studio with Scott Vestal (banjo) of Sam Bush Band
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You can catch The Mountain Grass Unit at Deebs Days over the weekend of August 19th-20th. Stay tuned for future details and much more to come on this festival. Check out the full conversation with Drury, Luke, and Sam of The MGU below!
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Great to speak with you guys today. Let's start off with some general background info on the band. How did The Mountain Grass Unit get started in your early teenage years?

Drury: Well, Luke (Black) and I originally started playing fiddle tunes as kids. That went on for a while, and I think we tried more of an electric thing in 3rd or 4th grade. Luke picked up the electric guitar and getting into that. I was getting into the drums, and we tried that for a little while. Fast forward to 7th grade, and Sam (Wilson) comes up to me in gym class and says, "Uhh, hey man! I'm Sam. Luke asked me to be the bass player in y'all's rock band." 

Luke: Yeah, so we did that for a while. Sam got a bass from someone here in Birmingham.

Sam: Mr. Hurley let me borrow one. Luke taught me to play electric bass before that. I kind of taught myself how to play upright. I guess that was 8th or 9th grade?

Drury: I was in 7th grade, and y'all were in 8th grade. It was the next year that we started getting serious with bluegrass. Luke and I were both taking lessons from Allen Tolbert. Our first official gig was The Ted Talk. 

Sam: _TEDx__ Youth came through and did a thing at our middle school. They had us get up there and play three songs. I'd been playing upright for probably three days, at this point. If you search through the depths of YouTube, you can find a video of it. It's just terrible.

Luke: Yeah, it's pretty bad. It helped us start this group though. We actually had to sit down and practice for the gig. It was so bad. I was playing banjo without finger picks, which is just a crime in the bluegrass world. It definitely got us started though. After that gig, there was a little bit of buzz. We kept practicing and learning more songs. Then, we started adding Grateful Dead songs and other songs from our rock category. We were having a lot of fun.

So, would you say those lessons with Allen Tolbert really sent you guys down the bluegrass wormhole?

Luke: Yeah, for sure. Like Drury was saying earlier, I took banjo lessons from Herb Trotman around maybe 1st grade. He was taking mandolin lessons from Jason Bailey, so we had a little bit of the bluegrass drive. Then, I saw Allen Tolbert play at The Acoustic Cafe, and I said, "I want to play exactly like that." That's when the bluegrass drive started hitting me. Drury started taking lessons from him around that time as well. Allen definitely influenced us a ton. 

Drury: A ton. It was a cool time, because Allen is a little more traditional with bluegrass. While we were playing traditional bluegrass tunes, from guys like Tony Rice and David Grisman, we were also discovering people like Billy Strings. People who played those traditional tunes, but also got jammy with it...and played Dead. I've always loved The Dead. Luke and Sam have as well.

It was around that point that we realized "jam grass" was the way to go. That was really where it picked up. This was right around the time that The Talismen asked us to open up for them at WorkPlay Theatre. I think that was December of 2019. 

That's right. Crazy to think that was almost three years ago. There was also a gig with Sam Bush Band at WorkPlay, right?

Luke: Yeah, that one was really interesting. Drury and I had a marching band show that night. We played a pretty big role in this show. We had to go up to our band director and explain to him that we had an opportunity to open for Sam Bush, which was obviously a pretty big deal at this point. It was a bit of an ordeal, but he agreed to it. 

Drury: He let us do it, and then we pulled it again for a Billy Strings show (laughs). That was a really cool day though. 

Sam: It really was. We had only played a handful of gigs as a trio at that point. 

One of the guys from Sam's band ended up sitting in with y'all, right?

Drury: That's right. Scott Vestal is Sam's banjo player. 

Luke: We love Scott. He helped us record both our EP and our album coming out (on July 25th, 2022). We just ended up hanging out with him a bunch. He's such a nice guy.

Drury: He's super cool. When he's recording with us, it's all about us, which is really nice of him. When he picks up a banjo though, he will tear it apart. Scott is a monster player. 

I'd say that conversation with your marching band director ended up paying off quite well for y'all. 

Drury: Let's just say that I'll remember the Sam Bush show, and not the night I missed the marching band show (laughs). I think I can just put marching band behind me at that point. 

Sam: I remember thinking, "If y'all don't get out of this marching band show, I'm gonna lose my mind. We have to play this show!" (laughs

Photo by Thomas Diasio

You mentioned that things started picking up towards the end of 2019. Perfect timing for the events of 2020, right? I can imagine how challenging the COVID shutdown was, both as high school students and an up-and-coming band. How did y'all go about accepting this reality and putting your energy in the right place to keep things moving forward?

Drury: It was definitely unfortunate, because things were picking up in January of 2020. We had a regular spot over at Basil Pizza. Playing there a few times a month. The word is getting out around down. COVID hits and just screws it all completely. We had a few meetings and decided to just try and write, initially. 

We did have an opportunity to do a few live streams on The Music Never Stopped Facebook page. That actually made us some chump change, so that was a big plus. Steve Masterson helps us open up some opportunities for outdoor gigs. It all worked out though. Most of the songs on our upcoming album were written during that time in 2020.

I'm sure the opportunity to play those streams on that type of platform, with a pretty significant built-in audience, ended up being huge for exposure. Followers of that page are really the perfect target demographic. I'm sure a lot of people outside of Alabama are still following y'all because of those streams.

Drury: Absolutely. That's really the name of the game, man. Luke's been really hammering down on our social media. I've always tried to be pretty active on Instagram and YouTube. What's cool about this community is that there are a lot of people out there who are willing to sit down, watch your videos online, and provide solid feedback on what they like about it. 

Sam: It's been interesting as we've been traveling more this summer. We've had more gigs outside of Alabama. We were recently in Atlanta and Nashville. People would come up and mention that they watched us on those streams. It's pretty amazing to hear that and meet these people from all over. 

Those interactions really go a long way. So, y'all released your first EP last year. I know there is a new album on the horizon. What has it been like getting in the studio and bringing your songs to life?

Luke: It was really fun the first time, because it was our first studio experience. We were so dialed into these three songs of ours. I feel like we probably put too much thought into it all. 

Drury: That's exactly what I was going to say. 

Sam: We definitely did. 

Luke: This time at Scott's, we went in there and did them pretty raw. Only a few takes on a each track. I feel like it sounds more like us. 

Sam: I think it sounds more like our live show. 

Drury: It does sound more live. 

Luke: We've been working on some of these songs for 3-4 years. Some are a little newer, but many have been brewing for a long time. 

Drury: One of them was originally an instrumental called "Paradise," but we've since added vocals. So yeah, that one is probably about four years old now. 

Sam: It's pretty cool to look back at songs like that one. It's really changed and evolved into something new. 

Have the final touches been put on the album? When can people expect to see and hear the release?

Sam: We're done on our end. It will be released on July 25th.

Oh wow! I didn't realize that. Release day is right around the corner. 

Drury: Oh yeah. It's coming up, and it will be available for preorder on iTunes on July 16th. We ended up with 8 originals on this one. We're really going to be pushing the pre-orders. We'll take as many as we can get. 

Right on. I know this summer has been big for y'all. You're getting to hit a bunch of new cities and venues. What have you guys learned about life on the road thus far?

Drury: Well, we're really glad to be such good friends. That really helps things. It's been so fun. It kind of feels like we're just messing around and making some money. 

Sam: It doesn't even feel like a job, really. It feels like a vacation with some shows here and there. 

Luke: It's been a blast. We've had a few all-nighters already. We're learning how to handle those scenarios. Pulling out of one town at 3AM and pulling into the next one as the sun is rising.

I'm sure. These are some truly crucial times for y'all. You're laying a foundation and learning the ropes of running a professional, touring band. Sometimes those load outs are mighty late into the night, and the drive ahead can still be brutal.

Drury: For sure. We've been really fortunate to work with some really great venue owners and buyers. A lot of people who have been really good to us. Everyone has been super kind. 

Luke: Absolutely. It really means a lot to work with such great people. Hearing that someone has been waiting for so long to see us play. It honestly means a lot.

Drury: It really does, especially when you're playing in a totally new place. We've never been to some of these cities before. The kindness we've seen makes us feel like we fit in, and we're welcome there. 

I'm sure the positive feedback makes the world of difference. There may be lighter crowds on random nights, but when you are treated with such kindness, it really goes a long way.

Let's talk a little bit more about CBDB's upcoming festival at Avondale Brewery in August. Deebs Days is giving The Mountain Grass Unit a nice taste of the festival life early on. What are y'all's thoughts on being a part of this lineup?

Sam: Personally, I'm really excited to play alongside all of these other bands. Can't wait to see The Talismen again. It's been a year or so since our last show with them. Really excited to see those guys again. 

Drury: The entire lineup is just really exciting.

Luke: It's going to be really great to meet and hang out with the other performers. There are so many great bands playing. I can't wait to watch it all go down. 

Sam: I mention The Talismen, because they really helped us crack into the jam band world. They've had us open several shows and been really kind to us. We're excited to build more relationships like that. 

Drury: For sure. I credit them for getting us into the jam band scene. We haven't really been playing at festivals of this capacity yet. It's exciting to be on a lineup with guys like Daniel Donato, Sicard Hollow, and CBDB: people we've been watching on social media over the years. Those are musicians that we really look up to. It's great to see a progression of what we're able to do. I hope we can bring something really special and unique to the table. 

Absolutely. Every band that you've seen out there has been in this position. Breaking in to the festival circuit and having some big opportunities. Soak it all in, and of course do your thing on stage. I think it's safe to say there will be many more down the road.

Drury: It's going to be awesome. It's exciting to think about what could come out of this experience. I know we all hope to make some great connections and start some solid new relationships. Hopefully, this can lead to some other festival appearances. 

That's right. You guys are way ahead of the pack already. You're fresh out of high school, but you've already built a solid fan base. Y'all are building the band's resume, and doing so will continue to open all kinds of doors.

Drury: I really hope so. That's definitely the goal. It's great timing with the album coming out. We will have a month or so to get the word out. Just enough time to promote those tunes. 

Well before we wrap this up, I wanted to make sure that we've covered all of our bases. You guys have quite a few more summer dates. You have the album release and Deebs Days coming up. Anything else that the band is fired up about?

Drury: We're going to carry on our dates through the summer. Obviously, school is a little bit of a speed bump. I'll be joining Luke at Berklee in Boston, while Sam is in Tuscaloosa. Luke and I will be playing up there a bunch. We will continue to have band meetings to make sure things are on the right track. We'll have a bunch of zoom calls. We plan to have some gigs booked for when we're all back in Birmingham over the holidays too. 

That's the right attitude. Just keep doing what you're doing. This band has a lot of people's attention already. It sure feels like you guys are on the fast track to doing some really special things. You guys know how unique of a thing this is. Set goals, communicate, and stay the course. There's no telling how far you guys can take The Mountain Grass Unit. 

Drury: We really appreciate that, Jordan. We are just taking it one step at a time. Figuring out what is the next best move for us. I'm hoping that we can just capitalize on the progress we've made and keep the momentum going. If we can do that, I’m confident that it can really go somewhere. We just have to keep putting the work in. 

Photos by Jean Longuil Frank


Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Daniel Donato July 6, 2022 15:58

 

Photo by Annelise Loughead

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

As most music fans in and around the Birmingham area are already aware, CBDB and Big Friendly Productions have joined forces to bring an incredible new festival to Avondale Brewing Company this summer. Deebs Days Music Festival is pinned for Friday, August 19th and Saturday, August 20th in Birmingham (AL), and all signs point to an incredible celebration. If you haven't gotten around to purchasing your weekend passes, we've got you covered. Simply click the link below and secure your spot while you still can. 
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As we prepare for the festival, we're catching up with a handful of the performers on the lineup. This week, we're continuing the official "Deebs Days Countdown" with rising "Cosmic Country" star Daniel Donato. This guy has seen a tremendous amount of success over the past few years, and as soon as you hear his incredibly unique sound, you'll know why. Donato began his career as a teenager cutting his teeth at the famous Robert's Western World in Nashville, and he's done nothing but climb the ranks since then. 
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Fresh off of a huge weekend at The Peach Festival, which included guest appearances with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Kitchen Dwellers, and Eggy, Donato is on pace to carry this tremendous momentum across his summer tour. Many may have seen his debut performance at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival last month (see pro-shot video below), and you certainly will not want to miss his set at Deebs Days at Avondale Brewing Company in Birmingham. Check out the interview below, and make sure to follow Daniel Donato on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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Great to speak with you today, Daniel. You’ve been grinding your way through the Nashville music scene since your teenage years. Tell me a little bit about how this journey began for you. 
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Daniel: I started busking at 14, and then I discovered the Don Kelley Band at Robert’s Western World. I saw them every weekend for 3 years, and then got in the band. I played 464 shows with them; 4 hours a day, 4 days a week.
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Was there a particular moment when you really felt that things began to take off? When did you realize that this could be a full-time career? 
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Daniel:  Just as a tree grows, it is an organic and incremental process; the emergence of a form born from passion and nature takes time. The first time I ever played on stage, my intuition urged me to dedicate my life to this craft. 
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You seem to have coined the phrase "cosmic country" when it comes to your sound. Tell me about this concept and where it came from. 
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Daniel:  It’s a Yin and Yang concept. Cosmic is explorative and danceable. Country is enchanting and classic. These are the things we all love and seek within music. A homeless wiseman who used to hang out behind Robert’s called my sound “Cosmic Country,” and I simply loved it. It’s a whole philosophy towards existence, not just music, but then again, what’s the difference between those two?
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You released a series of singles leading up to your debut EP, Starlight, back in 2019. You've since released two full length albums, A Young Man's Country (2020) and Cosmic Country & Western Sounds (2021). What stands out the most when looking back on these experiences, both in your writing and recording process?
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Daniel: How much I’ve grown and emerged since these recordings’ release is a wonder to behold. I can’t wait for the next record.
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While Nashville's always been such a special place for "country music," there really seems to be a bit of a revolution underway these past few years. What are your thoughts on the current state of affairs? 
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Daniel: Magic happens in pockets of time and tight knit geographic places. Everyone who is selling out amphitheaters and arenas in my scene, I have at one point seen play for $5 to no one on a Tuesday night. Patience, persistence and positivity lead the way down this no simple highway.
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You'll be bringing your signature "cosmic country" sound to Deebs Days Music Festival in Birmingham on August 19th-20th. What can those in attendance expect from you and the band?
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Daniel: Cosmic Country delivers a celebratory experience through exploration of modern and traditional genres with danceable rhythms, enchanting Melodies, and inclusive songs.
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Before we wrap this up, I wanted to see if you could touch on some 2022 highlights. Looking back, what have been some of the high points thus far? What's on the horizon that has you and the band fired up?
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Daniel:  Headlining close to 100 shows so far, touring with the Kitchen Dwellers, playing Bonnaroo and chilling with Billy Strings, playing with damn near everyone at Peach Fest — all of these lead into one source — our connection with the music and the fans. This is all that matters when it is all said and done.
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Sicard Hollow Independently Releases New Single "Mighty Fine Day" June 30, 2022 11:47

Photos by Kendall McCargo Photography

Press Release via Sicard Hollow

Sicard Hollow Independently Releases New Single “Mighty Fine Day” June 30th, 2022

NASHVILLE, TN – Sicard Hollow is a four-piece progressive bluegrass band who formed with a mutual passion for pushing the boundaries of genre. Heavily influenced by the Grateful Dead and New Grass Revival, these young pickers bring new energy to a timeless style with a combination of fearless improvisation and instrumental prowess.

The band formed through mutual connections within the Nashville music scene who all wanted to play something different. They were all simultaneously discovering bluegrass while existing in their other scenes. Once they got together, the rest was history.

Having toured extensively around the country since 2018, this group of players continues to grow their sound with every performance. With the release of their debut studio album, ‘Secret of the Breeze’ (2020), a live album called ‘Live at Brooklyn Bowl Nashville’ (2021), and their upcoming sophomore studio effort, there is no slowing down for Sicard Hollow.

After the band finished recording their upcoming studio album, ‘Brightest of Days,’ they were frustrated to find out how long the post-production and marketing process was going to take and how long it would be before their fans could hear what they’ve been working on. After about a week of decompressing from a long week in the studio, “We wanted to head back in,” says Alex King, vocalist and guitar player for the band.

The result was three road-tested, crowd favorites finally getting the studio intention they deserved. The band opted for releasing them as singles over grouping them together on an EP in an effort to let the songs tell three separate stories before they’re grouped into a single project. Cover artist, Brandon Trammel, also tried to illustrate this idea by creating a separate image for each single that will eventually make up a triptych once all three singles are released.

The band released the first single, “Little Miss Tipsy,” at the beginning of June as they hit the road for their summer tour. “It’s a phat festival banger,” says Parrish Gabriel, bassist. The release was accompanied by a beer from New Heights Brewing Company (Nashville, TN) called, “Little Miss Tipsy,” which can still be found in liquor stores all over the Greater Nashville area.

Today the band released the next tune, “Mighty Fine Day,” which is a fun, upbeat, summer-time river anthem about getting all your buds together on anything you can find that floats and hitting the water. The band appropriately releases the lazy-river-themed jam in time for their return to The Peach Music Festival, which takes place at Montage Mountain Waterpark & Ski Resort in Scranton, PA on Sunday July 3rd, 2022.page2image8690624 page2image8685248 page2image8688896 page2image8695424 page2image8691200

“Mighty Fine Day'' is Available now on all major streaming platforms.

Personnel:
Alex King (Vocals/Guitar), Will Herrin (Vocals/Mandolin), Matt Rennick (Violin), Parrish Gabriel (Bass), Daniel Davis (Engineer), Evan Wilbur (Mastering), Brandon Trammel (Artwork), and Tim Coughlin (Executive Producer).

Recorded at The Studio Nashville in Nashville, TN.


Who Is Danger Wolf? Whit Murray & Stephen Taylor Discuss Latest Project June 28, 2022 00:24

Photo by Rebecca Adler Photography

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

March of 2020 will forever be a time that evokes a wide range of emotions. Just as we all began to understand what was happening around the world, it all shut down in what felt like the blink of an eye. While the earliest stages of the COVID-19 era brought about so many trials and tribulations, it also served as an opportunity for many to press pause and focus their creative energy on in a different direction. 

Nashville-based musicians Whit Murray and Stephen Taylor are a perfect example. Long time friends from their days in Athens (GA), the two guitarists shared a mutual interest in writing music together, but the stars hadn't ever aligned just right. As you will read in the conversation below, the COVID shutdown paved the way for Whit and Stephen to do just that. 

The result is an exciting new project known as Danger Wolf. Fresh off the release of their debut, self-titled album, these two are riding high and already well on their way to a sophomore release. I had a chance to sit down with Whit and Stephen last week and hear the full story. After having the weekend to stream these tunes a handful of times, I can totally understand the excitement they both share. 

Danger Wolf features Whit and Stephen backed by a stellar cast of their peer musicians and former bandmates from past projects. You'll find multiple members of Moon Taxi, as well as long time collaborators from Los Colognes and Mama's Love rounding out these tracks. Check out the full conversation below and make sure to follow Danger Wolf on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest news. 

Danger Wolf is a brand new project for both of you guys. I know that both of you have extensive histories in the music industry. Let's kick this off with a little background info on the two of y'all. 

Whit: I grew up playing in bands in Raleigh, NC and ended up in Athens, GA after college. That was a really special time to be there, because there were so many bands forming out of UGA. After Athens, I moved up to Boston and attended Berklee College of Music for 3 years. From there, I knew I wanted to settle back in the south, and Nashville seemed to be the perfect fit. In 2014, I reunited with Tom Galloway from the Mama’s Love days in Athens to form Maradeen, and we toured extensively 'til right before the pandemic. I’ve also been playing with a group of Chicago natives that are based here in Nashville (Los Colognes) since 2018. 

Stephen & I first met in Athens, GA when I was playing in Mama’s Love, and he was with Eddie & the Public Speakers. I want to say we were playing a show together at Tasty World in 2009(?), and then reconnected when we both moved to Nashville in 2014. We’re super fortunate that most of our friends here are all badass musicians. You almost forget until you’re all hanging out, look around the room, and realize that everyone there plays an instrument and most likely, we all met back in Athens in 2009. 

Stephen: I’m originally from Columbia, SC and when it was time to go to college, the music scene in Athens, GA was calling, so I headed to UGA and really immersed myself in the rock scene there. So much incredible music has come out of that town. I think that’s where I learned how to play in a band and write songs with people.  

Nashville was always the next step in my mind. Amazing music scene, and so much opportunity to find your place in the industry. I worked in the agency world for a while and then had a stint on the road working behind the scenes with bands like Snarky Puppy and Little Big Town. Eventually, I found my place working for Fender Guitars, which I still do today. I really couldn’t be more fortunate. I get to play in bands with some of my best pals (Drew Dixon, Tom Galloway, and now Danger Wolf) and work in the industry that I love. Life is good.

When did the idea for Danger Wolf come about, and what's the overall concept behind what y'all are looking to accomplish here?

Stephen: Whit and I quickly established ourselves as quarantine buddies in 2020.  We’d get together and hang on Friday nights, play cards and grill out. Eventually, we picked up a few guitars over at my place, and Whit had the riff to “Who’s to Blame”It was so rockin’. I think we wrote that one in a few hours and knocked out a demo.  We were just like, “Man, this is pretty great! Let’s write another one next week," and here we are.  So, in a lot of ways, this thing is a product of sheer boredom. Once we had a batch of songs and were talking about recording them, I think our intention was nothing more than to make a good record with our friends and have a lot of fun doing it. It’s pretty pure in that sense, and I know we both aim to keep it that way.

Whit: The styles of the songs are all very different, but the lyrics can’t help but convey a sense of restlessness from being shut off from the world like everyone was at the time. Once we had the first one finished, we thought, “All right, now we’ve got a 90’s sounding song. We should write an 80’s pop hit,” ("Less is More") or “now we need a swampy rocker” ("Nobody Home"). "We Make a Pretty Good Team" was the last one we wrote, because we knew we needed to have one feel-good, ballad-esque song on there. We were really happy that the entire EP had a really solid flow from start to finish. 

Photo by Rebecca Adler Photography

What can you share about these songs and what they mean to both of you?

Whit: It really captures the best of that era to me, where we both had so much free time. We might as well create something out of it. The notion of writing songs and playing music with your friends just for the sake of doing it, with no expectations or pressure attached, is what attracted all of us in the first place. It's probably why we’re all still trying to outdo what we’ve done previously. 

Stephen: It’s a thrill to put out original music. To make something that you’re proud of. That’s where it all starts for me. Whit and I have been friends for years, but this is the first time we’ve really played music together. I think we came into this thing with a great mutual respect for what each other brings to the table. As the songs developed, our strengths as individuals really became apparent. We would lean on them for certain things and get out of the way when needed. Also, both being lead guitar players, we had a lot of options under our fingers and were able to dip into some of those great Allman Brothers/Eagles-esqiw moments. It was lots of fun.  

This EP features a pretty killer cast of your peer Nashville musicians. Tell me about who we will hear as we listen through each tune?

Whit: The foundation for what became our sound is Tyler Ritter (Moon Taxi) & Gordon (Gordo) Persha (Los Colognes) playing off of each other. When we were rehearsing, and those two were playing the riff to “Who’s to Blame,” we all stood there in awe for a minute. We knew that this was going to be good. You’re only as strong as your rhythm section, and both of those guys are monsters with their instruments.

We were also super lucky to have Wes Bailey (Moon Taxi) playing with us who’s one of the best keyboardists in the game. He has the chops to be flashy, but is much more committed to serving the songs. We really wanted to write concise songs that had some solos but rocked just as hard without them. 

Big notable mentions are Amber Woodhouse who sang BGV’s and played saxophone on “We Make a Pretty Good Team.” She really brought that song to another level. Plus we had Tom Galloway (Mama's Love) and Dan Davis singing harmonies, and Ben Torbert (Mama’s Love) playing percussion. Lastly, we bought a 12-pack of beer and had our buddies Mills Waterhouse and Hank Bateman come in and add gang vocals to all of the choruses to really make them sound big. It such a blast. 

You had the opportunity to record at The Studio Nashville with producer Tom Tapley.  How did you link up with Tom, and what all did he bring to the table? Tell me about this studio, the recording process, and how valuable Tom’s expertise was to this EP. 

WhitTom’s actually a big reason this whole thing came together. He did the first Mama’s Love EP back in 2009, and we were dying to work with him again. Then last year in April 2021, we went down to Atlanta and spent a week recording with him at his place, West End Studios. Tom’s like the cool older brother who’s holding down the house while your parents are out of town. He’s probably the nicest, most fun, and positive person I’ve ever met. He really elevates you to play things you didn’t know you were capable of. Not to mention, a really hard worker and an absolute master of studio tricks and sounds. 

Stephen: Tom is such a vibe. He’s the biggest cheerleader in the room. When things are happening, he knows how to pull the best out of the moment. And when they’re not, he gets you right back on track. We wanted this thing to sound like a big rock record. Live and rowdy. We couldn’t have asked for a better guy to be at the helm. 

And I see Dan Davis engineered the record. This is a name I continue to hear, as so many amazing musicians are working with him. How did you link up with Dan?

Whit: Dan was a huge secret weapon on this project. He grew up singing harmonies with his brothers, and he is a master at knowing how songs are crafted, especially vocal phrasing. It seems like he’s worked on or currently working with all of our friends in the rock scene in Nashville. 

Put him and Tom together, you know that you’re going to have a ball and that these two are going to get you to your destination safely. You know that you’ll be a better musician after the experience. 

Stephen: Yeah, Dan is the man. He worked on all the Tom Galloway records with us. He has such a great ear and is a blast in the studio. Not to mention, he sings his ass off. It’s pretty awesome when your engineer can jump in on harmony vocals to bring it all together. 

Release day is always super exciting, especially when it involves the debut of a new project. Where does Dangerwolf go from here?

Stephen: It was too much fun making the first one. We’d be silly not to record a follow-up. We already have 5 or 6 tunes started. I’m sure we’ll continue to write until we land on a batch that feels like a cohesive project. Then it’s time to do it again, “Nothin’ to it, but to do it”, as my Dad says. 

Whit: Put this out, play an album release, and get back into the factory to write the next one. We would love to bring this group back together in 2023 for another round.

Stream Danger Wolf's Debut, Self-Titled Album Here:


Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Alex King of Sicard Hollow June 17, 2022 22:30

Photos by Kendall McCargo Photography

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

As most music fans in and around the Birmingham area are already aware, CBDB and Big Friendly Productions have joined forces to bring an incredible new festival to Avondale Brewing Company this summer. Deebs Days Music Festival is pinned for Friday, August 19th and Saturday, August 20th in Birmingham (AL), and all signs point to an incredible celebration. If you haven't gotten around to purchasing your weekend passes, we've got you covered. Simply click the link below and secure your spot while you still can. 
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As we prepare for the festival, we're catching up with a handful of the performers on the lineup. This week, we're continuing the official "Deebs Days Countdown" with Sicard Hollow frontman Alex King. Since the formation of the Nashville-based, jam-grass quartet in 2018, King and his bandmates have quickly established themself as one of the premier rising acts in the country. Sicard released its debut album just before the pandemic struck in 2020, and they have wasted no time climbing through the ranks of the "festival scene." The band has built a strong national following in just a short time, and there is clearly so much more to come. 
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Many will recall Sicard Hollow from recent  performances at Resonance Music & Arts Festival, The Peach Festival, and Summer Camp Music Festival. They're no strangers to the big stage, and as King explains below, they couldn't be more fired up for Deebs Days. Check out the full interview below, and make sure to follow Sicard Hollow on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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Great to speak with you for a few today, Alex. From what I understand, Sicard Hollow got started back in 2018?
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Alex: Yeah man. I want to say May of 2018. 
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Right on. So, you guys have just passed the four-year mark. Before we dive into the band, I was hoping you could tell me a little bit about your musical background and how you found yourself in the world of bluegrass music. 
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Alex: It's an interesting story all around, because I wasn't raised on bluegrass at all. Neither was anyone in the band, for that matter. So, I'm from Birmingham, and I started playing guitar as a teenager. My parents bought me my first guitar when I was 14 or 15. I was taking lessons, but it wasn't anything serious. I never pursued it past playing a couple of chords. It just wasn't my thing. Skateboarding was my thing.
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So, fast forward to college. I went to Auburn University. Took a little bit of time off after my first year, and I found myself at Belmont University in Nashville. I was surrounded by a ton of amazing musicians, none of which played bluegrass. I didn't even know what bluegrass was at all, really. I knew what a banjo was, but I did not know the genre whatsoever. I had a guitar, and I started playing a little with people around Belmont. This was a little discouraging. These kids were freaks of nature on their instruments. It was super inspiring at the same time, because I saw what my peers were capable of. 
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I decided to step it up and start picking. I'm playing electric guitar, and I meet our mandolin player, Will Herrin. At the time, he had never played a mandolin in his entire life. He played electric guitar, and he tried to get me to jam over and over and over again. I was just too nervous to go do it. Eventually, we jammed and started hanging out a bit. I was writing songs on acoustic guitar in my free time. I wouldn't sing or play in front of anyone. 
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We ended up meeting Matt Rennick, who is our fiddle player. He was just incredible on the fiddle. We fit our genre around his instrument, because he was the best. I had these slower songs, and he could play fiddle really fast and intricately on them. The next thing we needed was a mandolin, so Will said "Screw it" and started learning mandolin. 
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Sicard Hollow was really born out of that. Trying to throw shit at the wall, for lack of a better term. We just ended up sticking with bluegrass. We all started to figure it out. Now, I've studied and gone down the hole with traditional, new grass, jam grass, and all of the above. Now I consider it a part of my soul, honestly. 
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You're right. That's a really interesting, and super cool, story. So this is back in 2018, and y'all are in Nashville. When did y'all really start to realize that this was something y'all could take on the road professionally?
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Alex: At first, I didn't really want it to be that. It wasn't Sicard Hollow. It was four guys. We had an upright bass player who was Will's next-door neighbor. I had no intention of it being a touring band. I was scared, and I didn't really want this. It found me, and it's such a non-traditional Nashville story. I moved here to figure something out, and it wasn't music. 
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Our first show was pretty unique. Our friend Andrew Manes, and our now manager, Tim Coughlin, were hosting an event at a local outdoor venue. They were streaming a Phish show, and he wanted us to "open" the show with a three-hour set. I'm just like, "Holy shit! We have to play for three hours, and we have maybe four originals." (laughs).
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We end up having over 100 people at our first show. Whether they were there to watch Phish or see us play, we played for three hours to over 100 people. Off the get go, I think we had that boost of confidence from a really positive crowd response. It was really encouraging to get that type of feedback on the first gig. 
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We kept on progressing in town. Then we'd drive an hour or so outside of town, and once again I'm just like, "Holy shit! We're getting paid to go play out of town, and we're not losing money." This is our fifth or sixth show at this point. We had this push early on, and I think it really kicked everyone in the ass a little. If this door is going to open up a little, let's kick it down and run with it as far as we can. 
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I think that mentality has really been the driving force. Now we're working with an agency. We're playing a bunch of festivals and touring all over the country. It's so crazy to think how much it has escalated over the past four years. It was so reassuring from the get go, which I don't think is the case for most bands. I really want to add that I'm incredibly grateful for our trajectory, and how it's been going thus far. 
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That's so cool. I'm glad you mentioned that, because I've been familiar with the band's name for a few years. I started Live & Listen in 2014, so I stay pretty in tune with what's happening in this particular music scene. I've known that you guys were a bluegrass band out of Nashville, but it did seem like you guys really came on super strong. It makes sense to hear you explain the backstory. I'm sure those Phish fans came out in the right mindset to see some killer music that night. 
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Alex: Right. And not being possessive about it, but Phish is my band (laughs). They saved my life, honestly. I started touring Phish when I was 20 years old, and I really started pouring all of my energy into that. Through Phish, I found my own musical passion. To have our first show being the "opener" on a big Phish streaming party - it was perfect. The stars aligned. It was such a reassuring experience. 
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Really love hearing that. I definitely share the passion when it comes to Phish. I always speak up when I hear people acting like they have to "pick" a jam band to love though. Phish is my #1, but I also go see Widespread Panic, moe., String Cheese, and so many others as often as I can. 
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Alex: Absolutely. I'm no stranger to any of them. I've got my hands in a lot of baskets as far as jam bands go. That's for sure. 
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Alright, so the band gets going in 2018 with some really solid momentum from day one. When did you start to see that the band was taking off and expanding into new markets?
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Alex: That's a good question. We played this festival called Bluegrass In The Bottoms in Kansas City. It was about a nine hour drive out there. Jeff Austin Band, Railroad Earth, Trampled by Turtles, Lindsay Lou, and so many major bands were on the lineup. I knew about these bands back then, but it's even crazier now to look back and think on it. I really didn't know what I was doing back then. I still don't know what I'm doing now. This is all sink or swim. Walk the plank. Jump in. See how long you can tread water for. It was super intimidating going there. 
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I'll mention this. I remember getting there, and there was a band called Kind Country. Rest in peace to Max Graham. Rest in peace to Jeff Austin, too. Max Graham was so hands on with us. He was so nice to us. We're in the green room, and there were all these killer musicians back there. I'm just keeping my tail between my legs. I wasn't going to talk to anyone. 
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Max really made us feel like we belonged though. Then we finally got to play a set of our music to a bluegrass crowd. Not a jam band crowd or a Nashville crowd, but these people were there to see bluegrass. The response was incredible. All of these out-of-town people coming up and asking us where we're from. Trying to link us up with new bands and venues across the country. 
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This was our first bluegrass festival. And as far as I know, a lot of these other bands have been doing this for a little bit longer than we have. It was really a crazy turning point for me. That festival put a lot of things into perspective for me. It also showed us what we needed to work on. That was Bluegrass in the Bottoms. I think it was three years ago. 
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Makes a lot of sense, man. Parrish Gabriel is y'all's bassist right?
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Alex: He is indeed!
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I thought so. I've hosted this event in Montgomery called Funksgiving over the years. Back in 2017, Parrish's old band Soul Mechanic played the event. I just recently realized he was Sicard Hollow's bassist. He's an absolute monster on the bass. 
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Alex: He is NASTY!
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He really is. At what point did y'all link up?
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Alex: Alright. I don't want to go on too long of a rant here, but I'll give you a quick run down of who has played bass for us and led us to Parrish. Chris Hancock was our first bassist. We were jamming at Will's house, and he walks over from next door with a massive upright bass above his head like a Tuscan Raider in Star Wars. He's probably late 30s, early 40s. He's a handyman, and he ends up getting in a circular saw accident. His glove got sucked into the saw. He sends us a picture of his thumb literally dangling. 
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So, we go bass-less for a little bit. Then, we picked up our buddy Trevor Clark. Shoutout to Trevor. He's an incredible musician. He really put us on to bluegrass when we moved into town. Trevor filled in for a bit, but he has his own career. He ultimately needed to focus his time and commitment on his own endeavors.
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So, we're back to bass-less. Matt (Rennick) is like, "I know this guy named Parrish." And my first question is, "Is he cool? is he the dude?" Matt assures me that he's the guy. So, Matt calls him up and asks if he has an upright bass. I think Parrish pulled one out of storage, and he was down immediately. He came over, and we must have jammed for six hours. 
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At this point, I've never heard him play an electric bass. I've only heard him on upright. He's obviously the homie. He's my brother. Immediately, when we started talking, I told him he was my soul brother, and I had his back for life. He was totally down and wanted the gig. Then a little later, I hear him plug in and play an electric bass. I had to sit him down and tell him that I would feel bad taking him away from that, if that's what he wanted to do. 
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I haven't seen someone slap a bass like that, first hand, maybe ever. It was an interesting thing. We didn't want to take him away from what he loved to do, but he really found a home in Sicard Hollow. He still gets to flex his slap chops in his side project, KillaKeyz. 
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That's right! I forgot he was a part of that band with Marcus (White).
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Alex: Yep. KillaKeyz is great. He still gets to do a lot of that. Since day one, Parrish has just been down to play. We're very blessed and grateful to include him in the Sicard Hollow family.
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That's so great. I guess it's just been in the past year or so that I became aware that Parrish was Sicard's bassist. It's really been that same period of time that I've gotten more familiar with the band, and this is a great segue into talking about y'all's original catalog.
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I was on the road yesterday, and I decided to throw on Sicard Hollow in the car. I listened to the new single, "Little Miss Tipsy," for the first time. Holy shit! I can't get enough of this song. I must have streamed it 15 times by the end of the day.  
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Alex: Let's gooo!
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That song is fucking great, man. From the opening notes, it just has such a fun, upbeat vibe to it. The lyrics are fantastic. 
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Alex: Man, that means so much!
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With the way Spotify works, I just moved right along into the Live From Brooklyn Bowl album. I was in the car most of the day, and I ended up listening to Sicard the entire time. While there is a lot of jam grass that I really enjoy, I don't necessarily listen to it super often. I'm really excited about digging deeper in the catalog, and ultimately, seeing y'all's live show.
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Alex: It's funny you mention that song. I'm literally about three feet from the water at the Harpeth River right now. This is where I wrote that song. I spend a lot of time here drinking my coffee and writing music. The first line in that song, "Let's walk down to the water / It's how I spend my time," that's what I do literally every day. I'm a river rat to my core. 
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It's funny you bring that up, because I'm sitting here staring at the Harpeth. That just kind of took me back to when I started writing that tune. I'd just go down to the river. Take out my guitar. Maybe crack a beer, or not. I drink my coffee down here too. I just start singing random shit. If something pops in my head, I'll just go with it. 
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I take out my phone and turn on the recorder. If you go through the voice memos on my phone, there are just hundreds and hundreds. A bunch of them are just jibberish trash, but you find some diamonds in there occasionally. When I started writing "Little Miss Tipsy," it was from my perspective, at first. The more I thought about it, it really wasn't me. It was more like a girl that I know from a festival. 
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The song kind of wrote itself after that point. That's kind of my writing process. I like to be a vessel to it. I can't really force anything, but when it's flowing, grab it and run with it. Or let it take you wherever it's going to. "Little Miss Tipsy" was one of those where the words were just rolling off my tongue. 
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Listen to "Little Miss Tipsy" here:
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It's one of those songs that sucks you in right away. A lot of relatable stuff in there. You nailed it with that one. It was just released a few weeks ago, right?
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Alex: Man, I really appreciate that. Yes, it did. I wrote it while ago. We have a new album coming out later in the year, and contrary to what people believe, "Little Miss Tipsy" will not be on it. We have so much material that we need to record. We decided to go back in the studio and cut a few more tracks that won't be in the album, so there is something to keep people on the edge of the seat until the album release.
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Speaking of your original music, let's touch on that a little more. Your first album Secret of the Breeze was released in March of 2020. Right before the pandemic hit. You followed that with Live at Brooklyn Bowl Nashville. Tell me a little about these albums. You've been working with Dan Davis in the studio, correct?
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Alex: That's right. Everything except the live album. Our friend Hank mixed that one. For the first album, Dan was our original banjo player. Dan is also an audio wizard, and he's amazing at what he does. Dan engineered the first album too, along with Preston White, at Southern Ground. That's Zac Brown's studio, which is just incredible. Dan has been amazing to work with. His work ethic is incredible, and we definitely wanted to go back and work on the next album with him. 
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We also worked with John Mailander, who plays fiddle with Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, on the new album. He played fiddle on two of Billy Strings' albums (Home & Renewal). He plays with Billy a good bit. Having Dan and John on the creative side of the second album has just been a leveling up experience. The first album was great. We were figuring out how to swim. Then with the second album, now we know how to swim and we're working on technique. Getting going in the pool quicker, or maybe in a more beautiful way. 
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I don't know if that's a good analogy or not (laughs). We leveled up though. Dan has too. It's nice to see these relationships that we have, where we are all progressing, and we're all able to continuously scratch each other's backs as our careers heighten and progress. It's really been cool.
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As far as the new album, will this be material that you guys have tested live? Will there be anything that's brand new to your fans?
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Alex: I want to say that everything has been played live, but several songs have only been played a few times. We've been on the road testing some of them out. We haven't played them as much back home. I think there will be plenty of people surprised by what's on the album, and the way we present them on the album. There may be some slightly different arrangements and tempos. 
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I think people will be really stoked to hear how they are presented on the album. As far as a release date, I wish we could set something in stone. It's funny how it all works out. I'm still learning how the industry works. You can't just record something and release it immediately, which is what I'd like to do. It's done when you get it done. It turns out that there is a little more thought that goes behind these decisions. 
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I'm impatient, so I'm trying to hold on. I just want to release it and move on to the next album. We're trying to shop it up and get some publicists backing it. We're really hoping to create some noise around it before we release it. We're waiting on certain factors to fall in place. It will definitely be out this year. Late 2022 is probably a safe bet. it feels like it's been a long time coming. I'm ready to get it out.
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Can't wait to hear it. Before we wrap this up, let's talk about Deebs Days. I know y'all are tight with the CBDB guys. You're a Birmingham native. I'm sure this one is extra special for you. How are y'all feeling about being a part of this Birmingham festival in August? What should people expect from Sicard's performance?
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Alex: I could go on for days about this. I love Avondale Brewery. My parents live four minutes away from the venue. I grew up across town, but that is literally my family's neighborhood now. I cannot wait for this. We've played the upstairs room at Avondale once before, but this is dreams right now. I've been waiting to play that stage for such a long time. Super stoked on it. Hometown shows are incredible. 
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This is going to be the largest caliber show that we've played in Birmingham. I've been waiting for this. It almost feels like our Birmingham debut of sorts, because we've leveled up so much since the last time we played there. We are just elated to be included. As far as the performance goes, there is another bluegrass band in Birmingham called The Mountain Grass Unit...
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I know all about those guys. They are really going places.
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Alex: Luke, Drury, and Sam are incredible. We love those dudes so much, so you might potentially see some sit-ins, but you can count on high-energy, ripping jam grass. They are INSANE. Absolutely insane. I strive to be on Luke's level on guitar, and he's eight years younger than me. It just goes to show that those guys are next level. They deserve everything coming their way. They're the real deal.
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It's great to see that relationship already forming between y'all. I think it's a no brainer that there should be a major tour featuring Sicard Hollow & The Mountain Grass Unit down the road. 
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Alex: Absolutely. 100%. We feel the same way. Not that they have anything to prove to us, but it certainly didn't take much to catch our attention. You hear the first 30 seconds of their set and you're just like, "Holy shit! They are on to something."
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Can't wait to see what all will unfold down the road with these two bands on the road. I really appreciate your time today, Alex. Can't wait to catch my first Sicard set at Deebs Days in August.
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Alex: Thanks so much Jordan. We're just as excited!
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Big Something Reveals Lineup For Annual Festival: The Big What? June 13, 2022 16:08

Photo + Press Release via Big Something

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to The Big What?

Big Something has announced the 2022 lineup for their annual Summer music festival and campout - The Big What? - taking place August 4 - 6, 2022 at Pops Farm in Martinsville, VA after a 2 year hiatus. Formerly held in North Carolina, The Big What? will begin a new chapter in its 9 year history with a short move just across state lines to one of Virginia’s most pristine outdoor music venues, Pops Farm, also home to Rooster Walk Music Festival.

“We are so excited to reunite with the ‘what-fam’ for a new adventure together at Pops Farm,” Nick MacDaniels of Big Something explains. “This is going to be a unique creative experience for the band and our community and we are very grateful to have both Pops Farm and Rooster Walk supporting our vision. We've got a lot of fun ideas in mind already and can't wait to bring The Big What? back to life in this beautiful new space."

Every year since the festival first formed in 2012, The Big What? has featured a 3 day musical and artistic journey curated by Big Something, Possum Holler Productions and Life Is Art Studios. Now in its 9th year, The Big What? will continue where it left off in 2019 with the same core team of organizers plus additional support from members of the Rooster Walk organization. Fans can expect a fun and collaborative environment with multiple unique performances by Big Something plus an eclectic lineup of musicians, artists and performers.


Phil Lesh & Friends + Wilco to Join Forces as 'PHILCO' at Sacred Rose June 10, 2022 08:06

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Press Release via Sacred Rose
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Phil Lesh & Friends joins previously-announced headliners Khruangbin, The War On Drugs, Black Pumas, Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Goose, STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, Kamasi Washington, Animal Collective, and Margo Price
 Friday, August 26 - Sunday, August 28, 2022 at Chicagoland’s SeatGeek Stadium Campus
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Chicago’s new multi-genre festival SACRED ROSE, debuting at SeatGeek Stadium on August 26 - 28, 2022, has announced details of its Friday, August 26 headliner Phil Lesh & Friends..Featuring the world debut of special guests Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy (vocalist/guitarist) and Nels Cline (guitarist) alongside host and captain of the musical ship Phil Lesh, SACRED ROSE will proudly present the first-ever ‘PHILCO’ performance. The headlining Friday night set in Wilco’s native Chicago will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime musical moment, melding together the fabrics of two iconic American bands for the first (and likely last) time ever. Anchored by Lesh’s white-hot bass riffs, PHILCO will see Tweedy channel Jerry Garcia’s vocal power while Cline purveys six-string shredding.

Also joining Lesh, Tweedy and Cline is an all-star roster of critically-acclaimed musicians including Jeff Chimenti (Dead & Co, Wolfpack), Karl Denson (Rolling Stones, Greyboy Allstars), John Molo (Phil Lesh & Friends), Stu Allen (Phil Lesh & Friends + Dark Star Orchestra), Grahame Lesh (Phil Lesh & Friends + Midnight North), and Elliott Peck (Midnight North).

Says Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy: “Nels and I are honored to be asked to join Phil and Friends for Sacred Rose. There has been so much about Phil and the Dead to be inspired by over the years, from their longtime musical brotherhood to their wonderful and incomparable music, to their relentless touring and longevity. But perhaps the biggest inspiration is their dedication to the community that has grown up around them. This is a trait that we in Wilco deeply appreciate and have aimed to emulate over the years. There’s nothing better than playing music with your friends, for your friends." 

Lesh has a special relationship with Wilco, dating back to 1999 when the Grateful Dead founding member performed his catalog hit “Ripple” with the band at their California concert. In 2016, Wilco joined forces with Lesh’s fellow founding member Bob Weir to cover Grateful Dead’s “St. Stephen,” with Leshreturning the favor in 2019 when his Terrapin Family Band covered Wilco’s “Misunderstood”.

SACRED ROSE’s eclectic line-up spans the sweet sounds of Americana, psych-rock, jam, indie, soul, funk and bluegrass which includes Khruangbin, The War On Drugs, Black Pumas, Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Goose, STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, Kamasi Washington, Animal Collective, Margo Price, and many more

Both 3-day and single-day tickets are on sale now!
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SACRED ROSE LINEUP

Phil Lesh & Friends aka PHILCOKhruangbinThe War On DrugsBlack PumasUmphrey's McGeeJoe Russo's Almost DeadGooseSTS9Greensky BluegrassThe Disco BiscuitsKamasi WashingtonSt. Paul & The Broken BonesPunch BrothersDawesAnimal CollectiveHiatus KaiyoteThe Wood BrothersCity and ColourYves TumorLettuceMoon TaxiCory WongLotusThe Infamous Stringdusters Feat. Molly TuttleWith Special Guest Margo Price (Artist At Large)

(A-Z)

Andy Frasco and the U.N.Blu DeTigerCircles Around The SunDanielle PonderGone Gone BeyondHolly BowlingKarina RykmanKitchen DwellerslespecialLiz CooperLuke MitraniMaggie RoseMidnight NorthNicole AtkinsSierra HullSunSquabi Feat. Kanika Moore (Artist At Large)SyzygalThe Dip

White Denim


Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Cy Simonton of CBDB June 8, 2022 16:32

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Photo by Kinsey Haynes
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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As most music fans in and around the Birmingham area are already aware, CBDB and Big Friendly Productions have joined forces to bring an incredible new festival to Avondale Brewing Company this summer. Deebs Days Music Festival is pinned for Friday, August 19th and Saturday, August 20th in Birmingham (AL), and all signs point to an incredible celebration. If you haven't gotten around to purchasing your weekend passes, we've got you covered. Simply click the link below and secure your spot while you still can. 
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As we prepare for the festival, we're catching up with a handful of the performers on the lineup. It was an easy decision to kick off the "Deebs Days Countdown" with none other than Cy Simonton of CBDB. Cy is not only the frontman and founding member of the band, but also one of the driving forces behind this entire concept. Check out the full conversation below to learn a little bit more about the year as a whole for CBDB, their recent hiatus announcement, and everything you can expect at Deebs Days in August. 
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It's great to sit down and catch up for a few minutes today, Cy. I figured we could kick off the interview by touching on the latest announcement from CBDB. The band has decided to press pause and take an indefinite hiatus following Deebs Days. What would you like to share about this announcement?

Cy: Yeah man. As far as taking the pause, I think we're just wanting to take a break from being on the road. Try some new things for a bit. I think change is good for the soul sometimes. I think that's what we're looking for. We are looking at Deebs Days as a celebration of the last ten years, I think it will be a perfect celebration of that. 

Totally agree. There's no better way to send the band off for a break and allow y'all to recharge. See what the next proper chapters are in life, right?

Cy: For sure, man.

Tell me a little bit about how this year has gone thus far for the band. I'm sure it's been a blessing to be able to get back out there and play so many of the band's favorite cities and venues. 

Cy: We've had some incredible shows. Knowing that this has been coming, I think that being on stage has been super special. You really try to soak it all in and not take anything for granted. Brooklyn Bowl (Nashville) with Sicard Hollow and LadyCouch was incredible. Both of those bands will be at Deebs Days. The new Brooklyn Browl is just a killer room. We had a great crowd, and that felt really good. A lot of the shows in the Northeast were super fun. Syracuse, Baltimore, Charlottesville, really all of them have been a lot of fun. 

That's so great to hear man. I know y'all just played Candler Park Music Festival in Atlanta. I know that had to be special for you. Playing another major, long standing festival where you grew up. How did things go over in Atlanta last weekend?

Cy: It went really well man. The crowd was super great. I thought we played really well. It was such a great vibe. We were grateful to be a part of it. The weather was perfect. Just great vibes all around at Candler Park.

Love that. Well, let's jump a little more into Deebs Days. I know that the band has been tossing the idea around of curating your own festival for a while now. It's been a really successful concept for many bands that you guys have come up around. Tell me about the thought process that went into this and how you landed on Avondale Brewery.

Cy: Having our own festival is something we've been thinking about for a few years. We knew it would be in Alabama. That's always been home base for the band, even if we don't all live there anymore. From there, it came down to Avondale or Horse Pens 40. The camping aspect is something that is super, super fun, but I think that throws another wrinkle in it for a first time festival. I think, for us, Birmingham felt like the right place to do it.

In Birmingham, Avondale Brewery is clearly the right option. We've had so many great shows there. It's always felt like a home base for us. When I brought this up to Alex Cape (Big Friendly Productions) a while back, he was super into it. I think he had been thinking about doing something similar at Avondale for a while. I think when we had this conversation, it was kind of a serendipitous moment of "this is how we're going to make this happen." 

That's great. From what I understand, this will be the first event to bring in a second stage to the Avondale concert grounds. This will really allow y'all to create a true festival flow.

Cy: Yeah man. It should really allow us to have a seamless thing going that weekend. As soon as one band ends, the next one gets started. No time for any fluff (laughs).

That's really exciting man. Looking at the lineup, CBDB will be playing both nights. You've got Brass Against coming in to headline on Friday. How did y'all go about putting together this group of bands to come together for Deebs Days?

Cy: I think there were a few things that were really important to us with the lineup. We obviously wanted to have bands that are friends of ours that we love. Both local and those outside of the area. We also wanted to make sure that we had a diverse lineup. We didn't want it to be just one vibe. We wanted to be able to bounce around multiple genres that we all enjoy.

Brass Against is gonna be killer. That's just a big, high-energy brass band. They do Rage Against The Machine, Deftones, and Tool covers, along with some original material. I think that's gonna be really fun. We have some great bluegrass acts. There are obviously some awesome jam bands like Mungion or Daniel Donato with the cosmic country but we also are covering more straight forward rock and roll with Dave Hause and others. You have a band like Audiophile, which brings more of a modern indie/pop/rock element to the lineup. We wanted to have lots of different flavors, and I think we accomplished that.  

Absolutely. I think you definitely did that. There's something for everyone, when you start digging through each of the bands pinned to perform. A lot of musical flavors that all kinds of patrons can enjoy. 

Aside from what we've discussed thus far. What message would you like to send to your fans? I know there are some bittersweet emotions surrounding this time period. What would you like to say to those who have supported the band through the years?

Cy: Oh man. Just so much love and gratitude. There are so many incredible memories from the road. So many people have shown us so much generosity. People letting us crash in their homes, cooking meals, buying tickets and merch, and just coming out to support the band night after night. All of it means the world to each of us. I'd really just like to say "thank you" to everyone who has supported us. It has meant the world to us. Then, I'd also like to say, "Get your Deebs Days tickets, and let's get ready to rage!"

That's right. The fans can get ready for what should be two of the most exciting CBDB shows to date. 

Cy: Absolutely. We've been hearing from a lot of people from all over. We're excited to hear that we have people getting flights and traveling from all over for the weekend. The vibe should be incredible, with a lot of close friends coming together in one spot. 

That's amazing to hear. Is there anything else you'd like to touch on before we wrap up?

Cy: I think the main thing is just recognizing all of the hard work and energy that our team and the Big Friendly team are putting into this. Without spoiling any surprises, there are going to be some amazing art installations built for the festival. There has been so much attention to detail. Big Friendly are incredibly valuable to the festival, and we would not be able to pull this off without all of the hard work that they're putting in.

No doubt about that man. That's an incredible group of folks, and you won't find a more talented production company. Knowing that they're on board is fantastic. 

Cy: Absolutely man. I couldn't agree more.

Well, it's always a pleasure chatting, my friend. Excited to be a part of this and can't wait to see it all come together.  

Cy: Likewise, man. Thank you Jordan!


Don't Miss Michael Weintrob's InstrumentHead Revealed Book Launch in Birmingham June 8, 2022 13:10

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Press Release via Michael Weintrob
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Instrumenthead:  Revealed Exhibit & Book Launch (Michael Weintrob) 
Saturday, June 11 @ 2:00pm CT 
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2920 6th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 
Art, Live music, Food 
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INSTRUMENTHEAD:  REVEALED
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PHOTOGRAPHER MICHAEL WEINTROB’S COMPANION BOOK TO INSTRUMENTHEAD 
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FEATURES PORTRAITS OF 300+ MUSICIANS, AVAILABLE APRIL 26, 2022
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PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT NEW ORLEANS MUSICIANS CLINIC 
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“When you mix art and music like you’ve done here, it’s just phenomenal. It doesn’t get any better than this,” the great Allen Toussaint once said to photographer Michael Weintrob.  The exhibition was for his 2017 book Instrumenthead, where Weintrob photographed 369 musicians with their signature instruments covering their heads, for some of the most unusual portraits in modern music.  “This is where musicians’ heads are really at,” adds Weintrob.   The book won the Independent Publisher Book Award for Most Outstanding Design.
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Weintrob’s companion book Instrumenthead:  Revealed will be published April 26, 2022 and will showcase “unmasked” portraits of these same musicians, including Bootsy Collins, Susan Tedeschi, Mickey Hart, Johnny Winter, Charlie Musselwhite, all with their own style and artistry.  Preorder is available now at Instrumenthead.com.
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Three dollars of every book sold will benefit the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic.  Founded by a coalition of music advocates in 1998, the New Orleans’ Musicians’ Clinic is the first medical clinic for musicians, performing artists and cultural workers in the US. 
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“I want to do my part to inspire people to learn about new music and the artists who create it,” adds Weintrob, who photographed the unmasked portraits during the original Instrumenthead sessions.   “I love to connect and break down walls with my photography.  Everyone has the ability to be a kid again. This book is really special, because we’re unmasking the original photos. The book reflects the new energy this year.” 
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Concert promoter Peter Shapiro added, “Michael Weintrob brings a new approach and new ideas to how to capture musicians in a way where their soul shines through, often in a way that doesn’t come through during the best jam session on-stage. It’s Michael’s ability to capture their inner spirit off-stage that separates him from others, and makes him one of the best music photographers of his generation.”
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Victor Wooten adds, “Michael Weintrob is a musician, not just any kind, he is musician of the highest caliber. The difference between Michael, myself, and all the other subjects in this work of art is that Michael’s instrument is a camera. Weintrob is a visionary!  As we all journey toward a better tomorrow, there seems to be no better time than now to lower our masks and unveil the faces behind the Instrument Heads.”
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About Michael Weintrob 
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Two decades of navigating the music business and transforming the storytelling of image, photographer Michael Weintrob’s work spans all aspects of industry. Created in the field where he has shot over 5,000 artists in-concert or his Brooklyn studio, Weintrob’s work covers everything from advertising to editorial needs showcasing the live element of performance and conceptual campaigns of portraiture.
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Weintrob has acted as house photographer for Red Rocks Amphitheater, The Festival Network, the CareFusion Jazz Festival Series, and Bluegrass Underground, and is currently the house pick for OZ Nashville’s Brave New Art celebrating its inaugural season.
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Major exhibitions of work have been hosted in Spain by the US Consulate, in New Orleans during the Jazz and Heritage Festival and in Charleston for the Spoleto Art Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival. His work benefits the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and Assistance Foundation, Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, Rock the Earth, The Music Maker Foundation and the Newport Festivals Foundation with plans to continue giving as long as there are stories to tell.
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Space Was The Place For Widespread Panic At The Orion Amphitheater In Huntsville June 2, 2022 19:19

Words by Monica Dean 

Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Widespread Panic kicked off the Memorial Day run with a cover of Neil Young’s, “Keep on Rockin in the Free World”. John Bell delivered the timely message, “Here’s one more kid that will never go to school / Never get to fall in love, never get to be cool” after the recent school shooting in Texas that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers. Then it was down to business with a blow of Sunny Ortiz’s whistle into Coconuts, before Dave Schools gleefully welcomed the crowd “to space camp.”  A body shaking “Worry” before JoJo Hermann set fire to his piano with “Big Wooly Mammoth” to close the set.

Panic paid respects to several influencers and mentors Memorial Day weekend, especially to Col. Bruce Hampton. They started the second set with “Fixin’ To die,” a song Colonel Bruce loved to cover. JB's voice resonated in our soul on “Mercy,” before hurling the crowd back into outer space with a playful rap between JB and Schools on “Going Out West.”  Panic slides backwards through space and time into  “Barstools and Dreamers” with a super rare and much missed “Thank You For Lettin’ Me Be Mice Elf” rap that hasn’t been played since 2015.  Second set closed out with a tribute to Tom Petty with “Honeybee.”  Panic raps up their first night in Huntsville with JB getting growly on “Pigeons.”

They were back at it on Saturday night; sipping on a “Tallboy” served up with some “Ribs and Whiskey” to start the first set and closed out with Jojo getting rowdy on “All Time Low”.  Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” opened the second set. There was a long “Fire on the Mountain” tease during “Stop/Go,” and Neil's Young's "Walk On" was up next. “Driving Song” runs into “Surprise Valley,” takes a break for drums and a jam before Panic orbits back around into “Driving Song” and “Surprise Valley” again. The crowd had “an ass kicking time” during “Postcard” to end the second set. A hard hitting “Halloween Face” and “Flat Foot Flewzy” ended night two.

Things got real when a backwards hat JB walked onstage Sunday night for more Memorial Day tributes.  The set started with Link Wray’s instrumental “Rumble” before giving us all a “little bit of room to fly” with “Conrad”. Panic returns to tributes with Willie Dixie’s “Weak Brain, Narrow Mind”, Billy Joe Shaver’s “Chunk of Coal,” and Vic Chesnutt’s “Sleeping Man” and “Morally Challenged” which was played for just the third time ever. JB flows through Danny Hutchens’ (Bloodkin) “Trashy” before grabbing the keys and taking a ride on “Love Tractor” to end the first set. 

Memorials continue in the second set with “Down,” a song written by founding Panic drummer Todd Nance who passed away in 2021. Coming back to Col. Bruce once again for a Zambi inspired jam, “Time is Free'' with a nice “Space is the Place” rap from JB.  When asked about what Zambi meant, Col. Bruce once said in an interview that “the principal of Zambi is when in doubt, go completely out”.  Panic did just that Sunday night with an encore honoring founding Widespread Panic members, guitarist Michael Houser and drummer Todd Nance with “Blue Indian”, “Travelin’ Man” and “The Waker”.

Next up, Widespread Panic makes the yearly pilgrimage to the land of sunny rocks June 24-26 at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver.


The Road to Mountain Music Fest: Kanika Moore of Doom Flamingo June 1, 2022 21:51

Photo and Music Video by Paul Chelmis

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

As countless music fans prepare for this year's Mountain Music Festival at ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill (WV) on June 2-4 (2022), we're sitting down with a number of this year's performers to get a better feel for what fans can expect this year. This festival was established in 2014 and has proceeded to solidify itself as one of the most anticipated jam-focused events of the year. While MMF features an array of major national acts, Doom Flamingo is most definitely amongst those generating the most excitement this weekend.
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Since the band's formation in 2018, this band has been on the fast track to success. Led by Umphrey's McGee bassist Ryan Stasik, this project was originally assembled for a UM afterparty, and there wasn't any specific plan for a long term future. Fellow Charleston musician Mike Quinn (saxophone) helped assemble an incredible cast of musicians for a set of music often described as "synth wave." The reception was absolutely incredible from day one, and it was apparent that this was not meant to be a one-time party. 
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Here we are four years later, and Doom Flamingo has made significant progress up the "jam/festival" ladder. Not only will you find them performing frequent late-night sets after Umphrey's shows, but they're being booked for the vast majority of major music festivals. This is truly an all-star cast of musicians, and you can expect them to keep this train rolling for many years to come. 
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Earlier this week, we caught up with lead singer Kanika Moore, who provided some insight on her personal journey, as well as that of the band. Kanika has established herself as one of the premiere vocalists in the game, and if you've had a chance to listen to this band, you already know why. You can catch her performing with TAUK Paper Scissors on Friday and Doom Flamingo on Saturday at Mountain Music Festival this weekend. See below for the full conversation, and make sure to follow Doom Flamingo on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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Thanks so much for your time today, Kanika. I thought we could get started by talking about your introduction to singing. At what point did you realize this was something you wanted to pursue full time?
Kanika: I was really surrounded by music at a young age. I was totally surrounded by it. I didn't actually start pursuing it until about 10 years ago. I think what sparked it was when my grandmother passed. She saw me sing with her in church a lot. She was involved with the choir and have me sing a little bit during rehearsal. When she passed, I sang a song at her funeral. From then on, I knew that's what I wanted to do.
I went to school for surgical technology, but I ultimately decided I wanted to work in music. I moved away from Charleston (SC) for a while. I was actually in Columbia (SC), and that's when I started working with Mike Quinn (Doom Flamingo) in Charleston. I was working with a few of my family members who play around here as well. But yeah, It wasn't until about 10 years ago that I got into music as a professional.
That's amazing. I know losing someone as important as your grandmother had to be extremely challenging, but that had to be such a special experience. For that to have sparked such a major journey in life...that's pretty powerful.
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Kanika: Yeah absolutely. It was one of those things that kind of connected me to the music that I always knew. Before she passed, I was living with her. I started exploring more music, and that's when the interest really started developing. I eventually moved back to Charleston, and I was working with Mike. We were working with this wedding band, and that sparked into Motown Throwdown. Then, I started working with Ross and TK (Thomas Kenney). Actually, I've probably been working with TK as long as Mike.
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We started working on some side projects. Hank (Wharton) reached out to one person, and someone reached out to someone else. Ryan (Stasik) had just moved here, and he was looking to start a side project. We put the band together like a puzzle. It was really supposed to be just a few gigs when Umphrey's was playing in Charleston.
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From there, we got in the studio and recorded some stuff. We realized quickly that this was a lot more than that. Ever since then, we've just hit the ground running. We slowed down for a second during quarantine just like everyone else did, but it was still a new project for us. During that slow time, we got to send music to each other and build more original music.
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That's really interesting. I know COVID hit the music industry so hard. It was such a road block for touring musicians in so many ways. I can see how a new project as unique as Doom Flamingo found some light in that darkness though. All of the time you need to build that original catalog.
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Kanika: Definitely. It's been great to work on writing with someone like Ryan. The first time that I performed with Umphrey's was actually the first time I'd heard them live. That was quite the experience. I have a close friend who passed away a few years ago. He couldn't believe that I didn't know who Umphrey's McGee was. I went over to his house to buy some weed or something. He has his friend were watching videos of this band for hours and hours. They told me it was Umphrey's McGee, and I was like, "I don't know who that is!" I ended up staying the night and watching hours of videos. The next time I saw them was when I was performing with them on stage.
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Incredible. Well, I know that you said that there are a lot of Doom Flamingo shows that coincide with where Umphrey's is playing. Your audience really seems to be taking off on its own though. SweetWater 420 Fest had to be a really special experience for you. You sat in and sang with so many bands. I thought I'd see if you could tell me about that weekend and any other memorable experiences this year.
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Kanika: Well, I think I took a late interest in music outside of Christian, R&B, and soul. When I started to learn about all of these other genres, I got really eager and wanted to learn everything. My outlet for that now is being able to play with different bands and experience that. I want to be busy, and I like all of the variety. I know that when you put a band together, you have a certain theme. I like the idea of being able to come to these festivals and play with everyone.
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Doom really seems to be taking off this year. This is really the first time that we've had to focus on a band and try to cover a whole selection or set of music. That's what we did with Queen at 420 Fest. Ross had that idea. He's always had a passion for Queen. It's interesting playing with Ryan, because he works with Umphrey's, and that's also a really big thing. It does work out to do those late-night shows, but it's also been working out to play these festivals and be there for the entire weekend, like we will at Summer Camp.
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Most of our plays are late-night, but the variety is also really nice. Kicking off the day at 420 Fest with that Queen set was amazing. Big Something comes to Charleston a lot. I hadn't had an opportunity to be a part of their show until that weekend. I had a lot of things on my chest that I wanted to do, and I got a lot of that done at 420. I didn't know how much I would be able to perform with others, but I definitely made myself available.
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I loved that whole experience. It was amazing. The footage that I saw. The experience that I had on stage. Being able to perform our original music. Being able to perform with The Psychodelics. That band hadn't had the opportunity to play that large of a festival before. There were just a lot of things on my checklist that I got to do. The weather was perfect. The people were perfect.
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They had a tent set up in the back. It was right after the Queen set. They had a chiropractor and a Vida Flo tent with the IVs. Right after that set, I got straightened up by the chiropractor. The rest of the weekend was just smooth sailing. It's easy to not take great care of yourself on the road. I'm so glad that they had all of that. I bought a bunch of shit out there. I had such a great time.
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That's so great to hear. It's amazing to hear that the performers are having an equally amazing time. That sounds like top notch hospitality. In a few weekends, you will be at Mountain Music Festival. Doom plays on Saturday. You're also a part of the TAUK Paper Scissors set on Friday, right?
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Kanika: Yes, I am. I've known the TAUK guys for a few years. I've always been interested in working with them. They just reached out to everyone to see if they were available. I'm sure you've seen how they do the TAUKing McGee thing. This seems like a similar thing. I'm not even sure how much time I'll be on stage with them, but I'm really excited to work with them.
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This is why I love these festivals. When you're there, and these musicians are playing, you're going to brush shoulders at some point. You're going to figure out how much you have in common. All of the sudden you're working on music together. And if it hits hard enough, maybe you go into the studio and record it. So, fingers crossed things work out with what we're doing with TAUK. I do have some high hopes for that. Just the collaborating and merging of the band while we're in one area.
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Absolutely. I know Doom is part of Saturday at MMF, which is the final day. Attendance should be at its peak moment. This should be such a great opportunity to keep building Doom's fanbase in that part of the country.
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Kanika: Absolutely. The people just become more familiar with you.
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I almost forgot to mention the new single. I know today is a big day for Doom Flamingo. The new single, "Lux Noir," was just released. What's the story behind this tune?
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Kanika: Ross wrote this song. Originally, a guy named Jordan Noir was working on some artwork to go along with our comic book that we came out with a few years ago. He came up with animated characters for each member of the band. Ross wrote this song about an idea of what our band would be doing if Charleston was completely different, and we were of the future. It started out with that, then the words, and we talked about putting some videos together.
I'm obviously a woman, and I've been on this girl power pitch for a while. When I first got into the festival scene, I noticed how few women were performing on stage. Female performers are such a big reason as to why a festival is so much fun. The colors, the dancing, just everything about it makes me feel spectacular. The video features an all-girl party, and I love that.
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That's definitely something that I've noticed in recent years. The female presence is definitely increasing in this scene, and that's an amazing thing. It's amazing to keep seeing that diversity. Before we wrap this up, is there anything else that you'd like to mention that you're excited about?
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Kanika: Just the content that we're waiting to release. We have an album coming out. Releasing a bunch of songs. There is another music video coming out soon. More singles, another album, and more videos this year. Just eager to get the content out for everyone to listen to.
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I know there are a lot of people out there who will be so excited to see this content surface. Thanks so much for your time today, Kanika. Looking forward to seeing you at Mountain Music Fest.
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Kanika: Thanks so much, Jordan. See you there!
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Check out the official music video for "Lux Noir" here:
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Nashville's Tom Galloway Salvages Gold With New Album 'Wreckage' June 1, 2022 21:04

Photo by Middle TN Films

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Nashville-based singer/songwriter Tom Galloway has been grinding his way through the world of music since his teenage years. After leading various groups through his time as a high school student, Galloway founded the jam/rock band Mama's Love during his college years in Athens, Georgia. Quickly becoming one of the Southeast's most popular touring acts at that time, it was immediately clear that he was on to something special. The band remained active and toured regularly all the way up through 2014, when Galloway and his bandmates began pursuing other musical endeavors. 

After relocation to Nashville, he would join up with former Mama's Love bandmate Whit Murray's band Maradeen. Shortly thereafter, Galloway would also begin focusing on his solo career as a singer/songwriter. After releasing his debut EP Cross Currents in August of 2018, Galloway followed with his sophomore EP, Rearview, in October of 2020. While so many were familiar with Galloway's work playing electric guitar and singing in Mama's Love and Maradeen, these releases allowed him to showcase a completely different, more personal side of his songwriting. 

As you will read in the Q&A below, there was a collection of songs that Mama's Love started recording back in 2014 which had never seen the light of day. While many of these tunes had become fan favorites in the band's later years, even Galloway himself had almost forgotten about them. This material was extremely personal and held a special place in his heart. They were rediscovered back in 2020, and thanks to the help of Nashville-based producer Dan Davis, they're now available on all major streaming platforms as of Friday, May 27th.

Just a few days ago, I was fortunate enough to catch up with Galloway and hear all about the story of Wreckage. I learned that this release is truly as important as any other collection of music he has released, and after listening to these tracks, I can totally see why. Check out the Q&A below to learn a little bit more, and make sure to give this album a full spin as soon as you can find the time. 

Tell me about the lineup you assembled for this project. What's your history with these guys?

Tom: The original group in the studio was the Mama’s Love lineup from 2013-14: Bill Baker, Ross Bogan, Richard Chamberlain, & Doyle Williams. This was set to be the fourth Mama’s Love record but was left unfinished. Most of these songs were the new favorites of our live shows around that time. This group was full-time on the road for years. We had ourselves a time all up and down the east coast and frequented the west in a treacherous converted red shuttle bus we named Bunny Wheeler. 

The Nashville sessions included Dan Davis behind the board, with guitar overdubs from Stephen Taylor (Tom Galloway Band), Whit Murray (Maradeen, Mama’s Love), and Daniel Donato (Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country). Davis also recorded and sang background vocals with Cy Simonton (CBDB), Willow Scrivner (Willow & Wood), and percussion from John Rodrigue.  If you are familiar with all these guitarists, it’s really cool to try and guess who is playing where. The mix of all these guys makes for a dynamic listening experience for sure.   

What's the backstory on these seven tracks? Is this all previously unreleased material?

Tom: A lot of these songs were written during a transition in my life when things were uncertain. The lyrics deal a lot with isolation and searching for love and meaning. The opener, "Land of the Midnight Sun," and the single "Missouri," were written on the same day. We always paired these songs together as openers for our live shows, so it felt natural to have them back to back at the beginning of the album. "Levees of the Heartland" deals with dropping emotional barriers to the power of love. "Hey Little Angel" was brought to the table by keyboardist, Ross Bogan, and it was always a rowdy song to play live. After hearing Angel again I had to call him up and ask if I could release it. "Times of Trouble" touches on broken dreams mixed with unhealthy distractions. "Stone Farm" is a story of desolation, a farmer haunted by lost love praying for redemption. "Broken Blues" is a heartbreaker and an ode to the healing power of music. 

Tell me about the recording process for Wreckage.

Tom: We started the record in ‘14 with songs I’d been writing since ‘12, and now 10 years later, here we are. In the process of moving to Nashville and getting involved in different projects, the foggy idea of releasing these songs kept getting pushed and for a while, I had forgotten about them entirely. But when I recovered the basic tracks in 2020, I was reminded of how important these tunes are to me. The true hero in this is my good friend and producer, Dan Davis, who was able to take these raw scattered tracks and transform them into worthy releasable songs. I don’t think either of us knew what we were getting into trying to piece this all together. We had several guitar overdub sessions in Nashville, and we recut all the lead vocals, harmonies, and percussion, while Bogan sent us some fresh overdubs from Charleston. Slowly but surely, we got the tracks to a place where we felt comfortable releasing. It wasn’t easy, and I’m truly grateful for the time and energy spent by Dan and everyone else on this project, and it feels good to say we salvaged the gold from the wreckage.     

What do you hope people take away from this recording and these songs?

Tom: I realized halfway through the re-recording process that putting this out was really more for me than anything else. And as we struggled to get this right, the more I needed these songs to come out. Because it’s not just seven old songs being released, it’s a part of my life I can now revisit through this music; a collision of the musical family of my past with the musical family of my present. It’s really cool to listen through and hear the different parts from everyone. The album melts into an amazing sentimental and satisfying piece of personal history and I’m grateful to everyone that made it happen.

Stream Wreckage in its entirety via Spotify here:


The Road to Mountain Music Fest: Rich Vogel of Galactic May 26, 2022 10:13

Photo by Marc Pagani

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

As countless music fans prepare for this year's Mountain Music Festival at ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill (WV) on June 2-4 (2022), we're sitting down with a number of this year's performers to get a better feel for what fans can expect this year. This festival was established in 2014 and has proceeded to solidify itself as one of the most anticipated jam-focused events of the year. While MMF features an array of major national acts, I think everyone can agree that Galactic is the main event of the weekend.
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Since the band's formation back in 1994, Galactic quickly solidified themselves as a permanent fixture on the festival circuit. I think it's accurate to call them one of the founding members of the modern jam/funk scene. Hailing from New Orleans, this band has truly done it all over the past 30 years. You won't find long-standing, major festival that they haven't played. This is funk music in its truest form, and their Friday night / Saturday morning set at MMF might just set the mountain on fire. 
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Earlier this week, we had a chance to sit down with founding member Rich Vogel (keyboards) just ahead of the festival. As you will read below, Rich and his bandmates became true pioneers early on, and they haven't even thought about looking back. Check out the full conversation below and make sure to follow the band on Instagram and Facebook to stay in tune with all of the latest happenings. 
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Great to speak with you today, Rich. Galactic has been going at it for nearly 30 years now. I think you guys started back in 1994. The lineup has seen so many collaborations. I was hoping you could tell me a little more about when this band started to take off.
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Rich: Yeah, you got it right. We started playing together back in 1994. I think that's when I started playing with them. Rob (Mercurio), Jeff (Raines), and Stanton (Moore) already had something going. They wanted some keyboards, so I volunteered my services (laughs). They invited me to a rehearsal, and the rest was history.
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We played a few gigs around town. We'd open for guys like George Porter Jr & The Runnin' Pardners. Played a bunch of uptown clubs. It was really in 1995 that we met Dan Prothero. He was an engineer / record producer who had done things on a label called Ubiquity out in San Francisco. They were putting out some old school, rare groove stuff from the 50s and 60s. Some of the underappreciated and unreleased stuff.
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Back then, all of music wasn't available like it is now. There was so much music that hadn't ever been released, especially in that world. They were rereleasing some things and really creating a scene out there on the West Coast.
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Dan came to New Orleans and was looking for a local band to record. Somehow, he got in touch with us. We ended up doing one track in our apartment, which was kind of the band house at the time. Stanton, Rob, and Jeff lived there, and I lived a few blocks away. We did all of our rehearsing there. We set up make shift recording gear. Dan had a DAT, which is a digital audio tape. It was pretty cutting edge at the time. No one was recording on computers yet.
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He was able to set up a make shift studio. We ended up cutting one song, which was "Black Eyed Pea." That appeared on a compilation record that Ubiquity put out. I remember the title of the record was Is That Jazz?  It was an interesting title, because it was a bunch of instrumental music with solos and everything, but it was more so based in funk.
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It was really that collaboration with him and making a recording of any kind that made things start to gel with us. We made plans with Dan to make a record. He came back in the summer of 1995. We booked two days at Sea-Saint Studios, which is a legendary studio in New Orleans. Sadly, it's no longer here post-Katrina. It was Allen Toussaint's studio where so much incredible music was recorded there in the 70s.
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Pretty much everything The Meters did was recorded there. We really wanted to work there, because it was the source of so much music we loved. We figured out we could record two days there (laughs). That was about how much analog tape we could record at the time as well (laughs). We were recording on 24-track analog tape. We also set up at the house so we had a few more days to fine tune some other stuff.
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We ended up making Coolin' Off, our first record. That was really it for us. That really turned the corner for us. We had an album, and we got accepted to play New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for the first time in 1996. That was when we really hit the road and never looked back.
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That's amazing. I feel like the mid-late 90s was when so much was happening in that scene that Galactic fell in place with. Bands like Phish, Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews Band, and moe. were really taking off. Now you see the emergency of Galactic, Medeski Martin & Wood, Sound Tribe Sector 9, and Keller Williams. It seemed like a really special time to be a part of that movement.
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Rich: It really was. I completely agree with you, especially looking back now, It seemed like there was a handful of bands, you know? It seemed like we ended up knowing all of them within about a year or two of being out on the road. The bands were just really getting out there and playing shows.
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We were kind of used to playing for hours, late into the night around New Orleans. That was just how things went around there. We were trained up to go out and do whatever. These festivals were coming together. We were kind of designed for that with our history in New Orleans.
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I have a vivid memory of Medeski Martin & Wood coming into town. They playing a tune on WWOZ, our radio station in New Orleans, and I knew I needed to go see them. They had a keyboard player who plays organ and all of the old keyboards that I love. These weren't really in vogue prior to this era that you mention. Guys like Medeski, JoJo from Panic, and I were bringing out old Wurlitzers, Leslies, and Hammonds that had fallen out of vogue in the 80s and early 90s.
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I went to an MMW gig at the old Howlin' Wolf. It was fantastic. I was mesmerized by their whole evening of music. It's just three guys playing instrumental music. I'd never seen anyone who played music like that. They were so talented. They were improvising. Playing a lot of groove stuff with hip hop beats. It was so cool, and the 12-15 people who were there with me completely agreed (laughs).
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I think they came back 6-9 months later, and there were a few hundred people there. Then I they opened for Phish at some point, and when they came back, they were about ready to headline Tipitina's. That was right when we were getting to. The same type of thing happened. We went out in '96 and hit a bunch of clubs on the West Coast. Thanks to Dan and Ubiquity, there was already a little buzz about us out there.
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We had some pretty solid shows, but we played a bunch of clubs. There might be 30-50 people in one room, but those people really dug it. So, we kept coming back, and it kept growing and growing. And you're right, that was really the beginning of that era. There was such a synergy with all of these bands. That really lasted into the early 2000s.
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We were riding that wave and didn't even realize it at the time. It was a great time to be on the road, and it feel like a special thing. We always wondered why there weren't more bands out there doing what we were. There were some older bands, such as Dirty Dozen Brass Brand, which certainly had been doing it. It was a great time for us to be interested in what we were naturally interested in. We loved all of this old school funk, soul, R&B, and rock.
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We were in New Orleans, and we love The Meters. They have the same instrumentation as us. Those groove-based rhythm sections that were so good. That's why i was so taken with Medeski. We just wanted to hone those skills. A rhythm section that can really groove. Everything feels good and you develop it from there.
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Absolutely. Whether you knew it or not at that time, Galactic really did help pave the way for what would become such a huge scene. It's damn near impossible to keep up with all of the new acts emerging these days. Being a teenager in the early 2000s, I have such vivid memories of the era of music.
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I remember stumbling across the Coolin' Off back in middle school. I can't tell you how many times I listened to songs like "Something Wrong With This Picture" and "Church" back then. Definitely an interesting era for music with what was going on with modern rock at the time. The grassroots movement that Galactic was a part of really became the modern jam era.
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Rich: Yes, you're absolutely right.
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I know there has been plenty of evolution within the band over the years. While y'all are predominantly instrumental, House Man (Theryl DeClouet) added a major element with the vocal material. Later on, you've had so many special guests join the band for various projects. Who have you guys been working with on vocals lately?
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Rich: That's kind of been our mode ever since House Man had to stop touring. For a minute, we searched around for another vocalist. Ultimately, we decided that we weren't going to "replace" House Man. We felt that we should focus on collaborations. We knew so many talented singers. When it comes to making records, you can do anything. Why not collaborate with the best people who were interested?
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While we had that strong instrumental side, there wasn't going to be a new "lead singer" of Galactic. For a band like us, this overgrown rhythm section, as I like to say sometimes, it kind of made sense. Then when you go out on tour, you want to present these songs, and you want to have someone who can do them justice. It's a tall order when you've recorded songs with Irma Thomas, Cyrille Neville, Allen Toussaint, and Jon Boutee.
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These are the kind of vocal artists we were collaborating with. And with that, you need a pretty heavy hitting singer to come out and help you represent your history and material. We've had tremendous luck to find the right person at the right time. Some of them have joined us on the road for a year, two years, or whatever it may be.
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Right now, we're in as great of place as we've ever been with Jelly singing. We call her Jelly, but her name is Angelica "Jelly" Joseph. She's just amazing. Her presence is amazing. Her take on all of the songs is fantastic, while uniquely hers. They live up to the original while bringing something different, which is kind of what you always want.
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You want the music to stay fresh and get reinjected with something that feels fresh. Not regurgitating your old records. She totally brings that. We also have Eric Gordon playing trumpet with us, who is equally amazing. He rounds out our horn section. We get to call it a horn section since we have two players (laughs). We already had Ben (Ellman), who also amazing playing tenor, bari, and harmonica. Ben and Eric together are just perfect.
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We're really just having fun. Being on the road again is great. We took a forced hiatus like everyone else, and I think that makes you come back with fresh eyes and ears. A new appreciation for being able to get out and do this for a living.
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I'm sure it comes with a rejuvenated sense of appreciation for it all.
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Rich: It definitely does. As we're talking about these festivals coming up, it's just great to have a real summer festival season again. We just had the first Jazz Fest since 2019, and it felt so good to be out there. You could feel the joy around the whole event. It had been three years without the festival. It just feels so good to be back playing.
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Didn't you guys go on right before The Who at Jazz Fest?
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Rich: Yeah, that was a fantastic slot. We sure did. You can't beat that. It was an incredible day.
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You really won't find a better spot than that. I didn't make it to Jazz Fest, but I was at SweetWater 420 Fest that last weekend of April. Atlanta also had another festival called Shaky Knees that weekend, and they were both sold out. I hadn't been to anything with that many people in several years, and it was incredible to know that both of these major festivals in Atlanta were sold out. People can finally feel safe doing these things again.
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Rich: Absolutely. It feels so great to be back to this point. Like Jelly always likes to say on stage, "We back, baby!" She means all of us, not just the band!
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Well before we wrap this up, I wanted to talk a little bit about Mountain Music Festival on June 2-4 in West Vrigina. Galactic is the headliner on Friday. Starting right at midnight, which feels so appropriate for y'all.
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Rich: (laughs) They still give us those late spots. We can still do it!
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Oh, I have no doubt about that. It's been way too long since I've seen Galactic at all, much less in that perfect time slot. Can you share a little bit about what the West Virginia can expect that night, and how you're approaching the rest of the festival season in general?
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Rich: Yeah, i really like those late-night sets. If you have a shorter set during the day, you're pretty strategic about it. You have to hit all of these certain notes within an hour or maybe hour and fifteen. The late ones sometimes prove to be the most fun. I think the attitude is a little different, and it takes us into interesting directions.
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Sometimes you're just the right combination of up but also laid back from the end of the day. It's always fun to play outside at night. Playing outside at night in West Virginia sounds nice to me. We love New Orleans, but we do look forward to summer festivals. Getting out of town and going anywhere sounds a little more comfortable (laughs).
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Could not agree more. I'm in Birmingham, Alabama and I was looking at the weather forecast yesterday. Anything in the 70s sounds like a dream. We're already cracking well into the 90s here.
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Rich: Oh yeah. We're all for it. You know what a Gulf Coast summer is like.
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We're off to another scorching summer. That's for sure. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your time today. I've been a Galactic fan for what feels like majority of my life now. I haven't been able to see y'all near as many times as I would like. It's been way too long since the last one, and I know that I'm not the only one who is stoked for Friday night at Mountain Music Fest.
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Rich: Oh definitely. We're really excited about it. We're primed for this festival season. And like Jelly says, "We're back, baby!"
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Love to hear it. Well thanks again, Rich. Hope to have a chance to say "hello" up on the mountian.
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Rich: Please do, Jordan. Thanks so much for doing this!
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The Iceman Special Confirms Phish After Parties in Orange Beach May 20, 2022 16:42

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Photo by Kimberly Braddy
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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If you're heading down to Orange Beach for Phish's upcoming three-night run at The Wharf Amphitheater, we've got some vital information for you. The funkadelic, "dirty funk" four-piece known as The Iceman Special has just confirmed late night shows on Friday, May 26th and Saturday, May 27th at The Undertow. The venue is just a quick two-mile drive down Canal Road; making for a super easy option for those looking to venture into the night. Both shows will operate on a first come, first served basis. 
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This year has been has been full of major highlights for these guys. This all started with a wildly successful show at New Orleans' Joy Theatre featuring The Iceman Special and Break Science.  If you spent time in New Orleans for this year's Jazz Fest, you may have even caught them at Live For Live Music's Daze Between Festival at Fauborg Brewery. They are now fresh off of an exciting weekend in Texas and Louisiana, which included stops at Last Concert Cafe (Houston), Parish (Austin), and Chelsea's Live (Baton Rouge).
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"These Big Easy Bombardiers pack an ample amount of audio artillery in their set, and you better believe that the funkadelic swamp will rain down heavily when they plug in. The Iceman Special is a four-piece outfit transplanted from the swamps of Louisiana to the big city of New Orleans. They combine a sound of dirty funk and delicate groove with elements of disco and rock and roll to create danceable jams with plenty of edge and substance. Screeching yet smooth guitars, wandering yet punchy bass lines, electronic synth samples, driving drum beats and powerful vocals form one a kind soundscapes."
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The one week countdown to Memorial Day weekend is officially underway. Chances are that most of your work obligations aren't kicking back in until Tuesday, May 31st. So go ahead and let your Phish crew know that you've got the post-show shenanigans covered. It's all going down at The Undertow with The Iceman Special on Friday and Saturday night. 
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The Road to Mountain Music Fest: George Norrell of The Talismen May 20, 2022 13:12

Photo by Nicholas Jude Photography

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As countless music fans prepare for this year's Mountain Music Festival at ACE River Resort in Oak Hill (WV) on June 2-4 (2022), we're sitting down with a number of this year's performers to get a better feel for what fans can expect this year. This festival was established in 2014 and has proceeded to solidify itself as one of the most anticipated jam-focused events of the year. While MMF features major national acts such as Galactic, Cory Wong, Big Something, & Spafford, one of the Southeast's hottest up-and-coming acts, The Talismen, will close out The Lake Stage at 4:00 PM on Saturday, February 4th.
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Since their formation as teenagers in 2015, The Talismen have evolved into a four-piece, progressive rock powerhouse. Hailing from Montgomery, Alabama, their days as popular college band have come to an end, and they're hitting the road as hard as anyone in 2022. Fresh off a recent run with Papadosio, this band is poised to continue building momentum and solidifying their place in the jam/festival circuit. 
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Earlier this week, we had a chance to sit down with George Norrell (drums) just ahead of Mountain Music Fest. As you will read below, George and his bandmates have an incredibly unique bond as lifelong friends. Their musical talent and professional work ethic knows no boundaries, and the ceiling is incredibly high for this group. Check out the full conversation below and make sure to follow the band on Instagram and Facebook to stay in tune with all of the latest happenings. 
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Alright George...This has clearly been a big year thus far for The Talismen. The band has been playing just about every weekend, with a few more extended runs mixed in the schedule. Tell me about how things have been going for you guys thus far.
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George: It's been really great to have these opportunities to do what we love on a regular basis. We sure hope that things do not slow down anytime soon. It's been especially great to hit so many new markets in the past few months. Going into a new city and playing a venue for the first time can be a bit of a toss up, but the reception continues to be really positive. That's something we are super grateful for. I think all of us are just focused on carrying that momentum into the summer.
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We were right at that point of taking the next step as a professional, touring act when the pandemic hit in early 2020. Our EP, Extra Vehicular Activity, was weeks away from the release date, and things were really moving in the right direction. We were able to get in the studio with Kevin Scott and Jason Kingsland, who recorded and produced the EP. Everything seemed to be falling in place for a big year, and we all know the rest of that story.
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That time allowed us to really get in the practice room, focus on our original song-writing, and continue building our chemistry. Things seem to be getting back to normal this year, and we're just stoked to have the opportunities in front of us. We've had a busy spring, and our summer calendar looks promising. Definitely excited to share more on that here soon.
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I bet. I know that y'all just wrapped up a run of shows with Papadosio. That had to be an exciting opportunity for you guys. How did those shows go?
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George: Yeah, it was great to get to meet and share the stage with those guys. They've already seen so much success, and it was pretty special to play a few shows with them. Anytime we have the opportunity to get to learn from a band of that caliber is invaluable. Definitely hope to cross paths with them again at some point.
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I'm sure that made for some great exposure. When you look back at the year thus far, are there any other highlights that stick out?
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George: We've had a bunch of really great shows. Earlier this year, we played our first true theatre gig with Big Something in Knoxville. We really look up to those guys and appreciate the opportunity to share the stage with them. We had another great night at The One Stop in Asheville a few weeks ago. That's a place that we really love playing. We've had a lot on fun the road so far, and we're going to keep hitting it hard.
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That's great to hear. Mountain Music Festival is coming up in just a few weeks. This takes the band all the way up to West Virigina. I'd imagine the excitement level is mighty high for this one.
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George: Absolutely. You look at the lineup and see Galactic, Big Something, Spafford, Cory Wong, and the list goes on. This is exactly the type of lineup and atmosphere that we want to be involved with. We just finished up a few shows in Virginia, and we couldn't be more excited to see what West Virginia has to offer. 
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For those in attendance who will be seeing The Talismen for the first time, what would you say that they can expect from this performance?
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George: Mostly original music that is based is progressive rock, with elements of jam, funk, jazz, and a healthy dose of improv. We definitely strive to provide a totally unique show every time we step on foot on stage. I can tell you that our level of excitement for Mountain Music Fest is through the roof. Those who catch our set will definitely be able to feel that energy. We're hoping to maybe even have a special guest or two join us for a tune. We'll have to wait and see how that plays out. 
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Love to hear all of that. I know that the band has released a few new singles in recent months. What can you tell me about these latest tracks?
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George: We decided to take on an exciting project at the beginning of this year. We converted our guitarist Jack Bennett's basement into an incredible rehearsal space and recording studio. We've already spent countless hours practicing and down there, so it made since to take on the challenge of recording and producing our own music.
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Thus far, we've released two singles: "Savage Road" and "Lockwood." These are two originals that have been in the live rotation for a few years now. Bringing them to life in the studio was such a special process. Our friend Casey Cranford from Big Something even stopped by to lay down some EWI on "Lockwood." We're shooting to have a total of 6 new singles by the end of the year. Stay tuned, because we're currently working on the next one. 
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That's exciting news. I know your fans will be excited to hear there is more new music coming soon. Before we wrap this up, what else is the horizon for The Talismen in 2022?
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George: Well, we're dropping our summer tour dates early next week. In terms of festivals, we're stoked to be playing CBDB’s Deebs Day Festival, Kampout at Cave Springs, Alex City Jazz Fest this summer. We have our first headlining gig at Druid City Music Hall in Tuscaloosa. We’re hitting several more new markets. I know we have at least one more festival to announce, and we're hoping to add a few more along the way. It's going to be an exciting year. That's for sure. 
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I'm glad to hear it and hope everything continues moving in the right direction. Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat today, George. Looking forward to the set at MMF.
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George: Absolutely. Thank you sir!
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The Road to Mountain Music Fest: Casey Cranford & Jesse Hensley of Big Something May 17, 2022 20:53

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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As countless music fans prepare for this year's Mountain Music Festival at ACE River Resort in Oak Hill (WV) on June 2-4 (2022), we're sitting down with a number of this year's performers to get a better feel for what fans can expect this year. This festival was established in 2014 and has proceeded to solidify itself as one of the most anticipated jam-focused events of the year. As the festival has continued to evolve and grow over the years, there's been one clear constant. That's the powerhouse known as Big Something.
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They're back for an eighth consecutive year, and this time, they're headlining Saturday night. I was lucky enough to discover this band nearly ten years ago (Thanks again, Sirius JamOn), and it's been an incredibly fun ride watching them grow. Festival season is already in full swing for these guys, and they've only scratched the surface.
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Earlier this week, I had a chance to sit down with Jesse Hensley (guitar) and Casey Cranford (EWI/saxophone) in preparation for MMF. They've been back to the grind, touring across the country, and simply loving that they're allowed to perform on a regular basis. You won't find a more genuine, hard-working group of guys, and they've most definitely earned every bit of their continued success. 
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Hope both of you guys are doing well today. I thought we'd get started by touching on how this year is going for the band. You've been hitting the road hard, as usual. Festival season has officially begun. Let's walk through some of the highlights thus far. 
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Jesse: Yeah man. It's been a blast just getting back out there and seeing everyone at shows. People want music again. Well, we've all been wanting it, but we're all actually seeing it come back now. Getting back to live performances with live audiences has felt amazing! 
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Festival season has been crazy good. 420 Fest was killer. A lot of cool stuff coming up too. Beaufort Music Festival coming up this weekend. Summer Camp and Revival Fest are around the corner. But yeah, I think everyone has been really anxious to get back out and get going again. Super pumped about it.
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Right on. How's 2022 been treating you, Casey? 
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Casey: I think the highlight has just been getting back out on the road. We recently played Austin, TX with Papadosio and some other really cool bands. We've been down to The Spirit of Suwannee a few times, which is always great. Working on our new music has been really cool too.
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I'm glad you mentioned that. Somehow, it's been a few years since the last album release. I know that the band has debuted several new originals over the past year. "Bob and Weave" has become a real favorite of mine. Can you tell me a little bit more about where you guys are with new material?
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Casey: I think we have debuted two new ones, "Chemistry" and "Algorithm." I'd say we have maybe 8 or 10 more.
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Jesse: Yeah, 8 or 10 more. I think we're still kind of hashing out parts as we go. It's been really cool. We've had a lot of production practices getting ready for festival season. That's been super helpful to get together, write, and actually play on a stage. We've set up in a few venues, gone through our entire rig, made sure the cables are good, and everyone is happy with their in-ear mixes.
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In the process, we've been knocking away at some of these new songs we've been working on. It's been super helpful for that. We're pumped to get back in the studio and get cracking on some of this stuff. I think there are some plans for recording sessions later in the year. 
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Casey: Yeah, hopefully we will have some progress. It's hard to say when, at this point. We're really looking forward to that though. 
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Oh, I'm sure. I know there is a lot that can happen between now and next month, much less now and the end of the summer. Having that new material in pipeline has to be a nice feeling. Testing the audience's reaction as these songs are debuted live will be plenty of fun. 
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Jesse: Yeah absolutely. It's always nice to have some new things in our pockets and ready to throw out at the crowd. 
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In just a few weeks, we've got Mountain Music Fest coming up. Very familiar territory for Big Something. It seems like y'all have become such a staple of the festival. You've even played the resort as a one-off show outside of the festival weekend. How has this relationship been? What has the Mountain Music Fest experience been like?
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Jesse: West Virginia has almost become a second home for us. Several years back, we played in so many different towns and venues across the state working our way up through the festival circuit. It's been awesome to get to meet and hang out with all of those people. We've built some great relationships there. 
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It's always a staple, man. Mountain Music Fest is such a blast every year. There's always a bunch of crazy things happening on site (Laughs). The lineup and the bands are always killer but they also have tons of daytime activities to enjoy like whitewater rafting, mountain biking, swimming at the waterpark, ziplining or just taking a beautiful hike. It really packs the biggest punch, in terms of the time you spend at the festival, and things you can experience while you're there.
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I remember the year I finally got to see The Wood Brothers for the first time. I'd been listening to them for years. There is always that band who really speaks to you every year. It's just been awesome to have that experience every year and keep coming back. It's been really fulfilling.
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Casey: I just feel honored that they keep having us back. I believe they have had us every year. They're a great team over there. The venue is beautiful. So many things to do outside of the music, like rafting and swimming. I think there may be a rope course too. It's always been a super welcoming experience. The crowd is always super hyped for us, which we really appreciate. We're just happy to be returning. I haven't had a chance to see Galactic in a while.
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Jesse: Yeah, I'm pretty pumped about Galactic too!
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Very excited about Galactic. Somehow, I've only managed to see Galactic a few times, and they've all been during the day. I know they are known for being one of the best late night bands around. 
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Jesse: Oh yeah. It's gonna be a party.
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Casey: They are from New Orleans....
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Watch Big Something perform "Bob & Weave" at Mountain Music Fest [2022]
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Looking at the lineup for Friday, you have Galactic at 10PM. Then there is the TAUK Paper Scissors following at midnight.
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Jesse: I'm really pumped about that too. A lot of cool stuff is likely to happen during that set.
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Absolutely. That's a ridiculous group of players. 
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Casey: Yeah man. Karl Denson is one of them.
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Jesse: Is this the one that Antwaun Stanley is a part of?
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That's correct. They've also got Jen Hartswick, James Casey, Jason Hann, Clyde Lawrence... So many exciting names. I'm super excited to see how that whole situation unfolds. 
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Jesse: That is for sure. 
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I'm sure it's even extra exciting being the final headlining act this year. I believe there is a late-night set on another stage, but Big Something is essentially closing out the whole festival. You've got Doom Flamingo and Cory Wong leading up to your set. What a night that will be. 
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Jesse: Absolutely man. We're totally pumped.
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Well fellas, aside from everything we've covered thus far, what else is happening in the world of Big Something. Anything in particular that we should touch on before we wrap this thing up?
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Jesse: You got anything, Casey? (laughs)
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Casey: Well, we've got Summer Camp coming up. We've got Rooster Walk coming up, which is up closer to Mountain Music Festival. In addition, we're also moving our own festival, The Big What?, to Pop's Farm in Martinsville, VA. 
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Shit, I nearly forgot to even ask about The Big What?. What are the dates again?
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Jesse: It's going down on August 4th-6th. Just a few months away. 
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Casey: That's right. It will be a fun three nights of music. 
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Jesse: And Pop's Farm is in the southern part of Virginia. It's a beautiful place, man. The setup and the infrastructure are just top touch. Pretty pumped about having all of that at our disposal this year. I also wanted to mention that The Ride Festival is coming up in July. We're always stoked to get back out to Telluride. That's one of our favorites, for sure. 
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That's right. And that's another one that y'all seem to be playing every year, right?
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Jesse: Yeah, man. It's been awesome to be able to make that trip just about every year now. 
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I can imagine. The view from that stage looks about as beautiful as anything you could imagine.
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Jesse: It's pretty breathtaking, for sure. 
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That's right. Well, just one more thing before we wrap this up. Jumping back to The Big What? for a minute. Over the years, whether it's The Big What?, The Werk Out, DomeFest, or even Summer Camp & Hulaween, that concept of a band initiating and curating its own festival seems to be invaluable. How important would you say that this festival has been for Big Something?
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Jesse: I think it has been huge. In past years, It's really just felt like a BIG family reunion with bands that we get to play shows with throughout the year. We might play all over the country with a group, but sometimes we never get the opportunity to bring them back to our neck of the woods. It's really nice to be able to share that music and those personalities with our homies at home. 
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To me, that's the most fun part of it all. Getting to turn people on to new artists and seeing their reactions to the music that has inspired you. That's definitely one of my favorite things about the festival.
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Casey: Yeah man. That's it right there. Jesse nailed it. 
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I'd love to find a way to make the trek up there this year. I'm always super jealous when I see the footage and setlists rolling out that weekend. 
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Jesse: Come on with it dude!
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Casey: We've gotta get you up there man. 
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I'm gonna do everything that I can. That would be a highlight of the year. No doubt about that.
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Jesse: Well, we'd sure love to have ya. 
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Absolutely man. Well, once again, thanks for your time today guys. Always a pleasure getting to catch up with y'all. Can't wait to kick it here in a few weeks in West Viriginia.
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Jesse: Can't wait man. We will see you there!
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Casey: Thanks so much, Jordan!
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